QUAERITUR: Elements of the Extraordinary Form in the Ordinary Form

From a reader:

Can the Last Gospel and the prayers at the foot of the altar be a part of the Ordinary Form? Also, can the priest say, “May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting” instead of the theologically bland, “The Body of Christ”?

Good questions.

Regarding the Last Gospel and the Prayers at the foot of the altar… I think so. Given the fact that, in the Novus Ordo/Ordinary Form, they would technically be before Mass begins and after Mass concludes, you could probably do them as a sort of devotional practice. However, people in the pews would not see the distinction I am making and would, more than likely, see them as being part of Mass. I would therefore hesitate to do this.

As far as the form for distribution of Communion is concerned, I think that the older form cannot be used. The form for distribution of Communion is laid down explicitly in the Missale Romanum and there is no indication for any option.

One of Pope Benedict’s intentions with the provision of Summorum Pontificum was, through a wider use of the older form of Holy Mass, to kick-start the organic development of Holy Church’s worship. He was aiming to create a “gravitational pull”, as I call it, of the forms on each other. I believe that the older form will eventually have the greater pull in the long run. This gravitational pull is going to have to be slow. I don’t think we will necessarily see the results in our lifetime. We need stability in using the older, traditional forms so that they can be well-known and widespread. Only then might there be room for adjustments.

These questions, however, bring up another question. If it is desirable to make the newer form, the Ordinary Form, more like the Extraordinary Form, why not just use the Extraordinary Form? Sometimes it is said that the more the Ordinary Form is celebrated in the style of and with elements of the older form, the better it is. If that is the case, then I have to ask why not simply use the Extraordinary Form? It would take some patience and catechesis to establish it in a parish that hasn’t had it, but it can be done with the aid of some dedicated lay people and, of course, willing priests.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. NoraLee9 says:

    Father said: “If it is desirable to make the newer form, the Ordinary Form, more like the Extraordinary Form, why not just use the Extraordinary Form?”

    Exactly. Let’s get rid of the 1969 experiment already. It has failed. Catholics will have to wake up and learn their faith…. I don’t see this as a bad thing….

  2. Blue Henn says:

    I’ve always wondered why they didn’t just translate the EF into the “common language of the people”, instead of coming up with a new form and then translating that (and badly, apparently). I’m not so very learned, so does anyone know the whys?

  3. Speravi says:

    I almost always say silently the “Judica me,” “Aufer a nobis,” and “Oramus te” in the Novus Ordo during the procession…but not such that the people can hear.

  4. jmgazzoli says:

    “If it is desirable to make the newer form, the Ordinary Form, more like the Extraordinary Form, why not just use the Extraordinary Form? ”

    Here, here, Father! This is why I view the whole reform of the reform movement as nothing more than a transition process back to the old Mass.

  5. Well, we’re all friends here, so I’ll be the lightning rod. The reason not to scrap the Ordinary Form utterly is because there are questions of reform in the Mass, originally raised by the Council itself (please note I am distinguishing the Council documents from what came after, and then after that after).

    I would argue that there are several reforms associated with the Ordinary Form, properly understood, worth preserving:

    > Proclaiming the readings once at Mass, from the pulpit.
    > Introduction of the vernacular as an option.
    > Expanded lectionary and added readings (yes, I know some specifically dislike this; fair enough. I simply mean I think it’s worth defending).
    > Prayers of the faithful as an option–properly done, you understand.
    > Proclamation of Mass prayers aloud, and even sung as options. (Please correct me, but my experience has been that even with a Solemn High Mass, many of the prayers of Mass, currently proclaimed aloud, remain in a low voice, and are “overlaid” with other, sung prayers.)

    Now, in no way am I dismissing the Extraordinary Form. But again, I think these are reforms that have merit.

    And it all goes to the merits of the Council. I make a careful distinction between the Council itself and it’s misbegotten implementation, guided by an unclean spirit from who knows where. I take the Council seriously; it called for some reform. If you simply return to the older form, what becomes of that call by the Council? Is that not, in effect, a repudiation of Sacrosanctum Concilium?

  6. Traductora says:

    @Blue Henn, the EF (of the 1965 Missal) was translated into the vernacular and was regularly used in that form (for low masses) for a brief few years before the introduction of the Novus Ordo. People liked it, it was a very dignified translation of a beautiful rite, and only a few changes had been made to the pre-1965 form (such as the dropping of the Last Gospel). The 1970 missal introduced the Novus Ordo – and devastation, in my opinion.

    I think that if we went back to the 1965 Missal in the vernacular tomorrow, most people in the parishes would love it. I think we should keep Latin or Greek in the ordinary (the parts of the mass said every day, such as the Agnus Dei) but to me the important thing is not the language but the mass. And in my opinion, there is no question that the Novus Ordo is different and far inferior to the former mass and that it has severed a very, very vital link with Tradition.

  7. pjthom81 says:

    Well, my understanding is that there was a translation of the EF in 1965, but some decided to “improve” it.

    Here is the reasoning given by Pope Paul VI during the time:

    The recent Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in promulgating the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, established the basis for the general revision of the Roman Missal: in declaring “both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify”; in ordering that “the rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, can be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful can be more easily accomplished”; in prescribing that “the treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s Word”; in ordering, finally, that “a new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up and incorporated into the Pontifical and into the Roman Missal.”

    It appears from these comments that Paul VI wished to make the language more direct and less poetic, and the Mass itself streamlined. It also appears (and this is the part where I feel Paul VI was on the strongest ground) that more of scripture should be brought into the Mass…hence the three year cycle. The thoughts behind concelebration I leave to brighter minds than mine.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Say the black, do the red… in both forms of the Roman Rite (and I think this would mean getting stop saying the “third” Confiteor!).

    “a new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up and incorporated into the Pontifical and into the Roman Missal.”

    I have read this many times, and only now does it strike me that since it specifically mentions the Pontifical, perhaps expanded cases of concelebration were only foreseen in Masses said by bishops?


  10. Jim of Bowie says:

    OT Blogger Jimmy Akin’s surgery was sucessful. Deo Gracias.

  11. Clinton R. says:

    “If it is desirable to make the newer form, the Ordinary Form, more like the Extraordinary Form, why not just use the Extraordinary Form?”

    Exactly. We know that the OF Mass is a Bugnini creation that intended to reduce the catholicity of the Mass and make it more ecumenical (the false kind, of course). The sooner it is gone, the better for the Church Militant. If the Tridentine Mass was good enough for so many of the saints, then it surely is good enough for us. Hopefully some day we will look back on Summorum Pontificum and be grateful to Pope Benedict XVI as the day the tide turned back to the Mass Immemorial. +JMJ+

  12. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    The Council required that there be NO innovation unless the good of the faithful surely required it. Given that in most countries Mass attendance is down and vocations are down, couldn’t these be taken as evidence that the good of the faithful surely requires a reform?

    The new translation of the Missal of 1970 is a step in the right direction.

    Saying most of the prayers aloud, facing the people, gives the impression that the Mass is about the people, which it isn’t.

    Proclaiming the readings from the pulpit, since nearly anyone can go there nowadays, gives the impression that the readings are principally for the edification of the faithful. We need lector training because people have to be taught how to proclaim clearly, and how to edit the text for inclusive language. Having a priest or other cleric reading, or even singing, the readings in such wise as they are part of a ritual action, not part of a didactic exercise, edifies the faithful. Lay reading of the epistle contributes to the denigration of the priesthood. See my first point.

  13. Traductora says:

    @pjthom They didn’t decide to “improve” the translation. Most of the bishops who voted in favor of the changes to the mass actually thought that they were voting for a few minor changes and the possibility of saying it in the vernacular or in Latin. When they came out with the form used from 1965-1970, they used the translations that had already been approved for the missals that people had been reading for years, except of course for the minor changes. It actually was not a big shocker in parishes and people in fact liked it (I know because I lived through it).

    The problem was that Bugnini and his spawn were busy working on an entirely different form of the mass, and these unwary bishops were unaware of this. By the time they found out, it was too late. This was entirely different, and I still remember the priest coming out to us after the last old mass prior to the introduction of the 1970 missal and telling us that it was going to be very different the next day and many of us might not like it. (I had a feeling he didn’t, and in fact he left the priesthood a couple of years later.)

    We went to mass the next day and people left the church in tears. I think that tells you all you need to know about the Novus Ordo.

  14. Athelstan says:

    Fr. Fox is right: while Sacrosanctum Concilium did not call for A tithe of the many changes made in the liturgy, both in the missal and in its actual celebration, it’s nonetheless true that it calls for a fairly sweeping reform of the Roman Rite. Even the most conservative faithful implementation would have produced the most significant changes in the Rite’s history.

    But I would simply say that, with respect, the Council Fathers were well intentioned but wrong in most of these recommendations – either because they relied on erroneous contemporary scholarship, or because they felt this was the best way to respond to advancing secularization.

    Sacrosanctum Concilium is a constitution of the Council, and owed a real respect as an act of the ordinary Magisterium. But it made no dogmatic pronouncements. Its judgments were prudential, and open to subsequent revision by the Magisterium. And the time has come, or is coming, for a frank reassessment of the goals and means of liturgical reform proclaimed by the Council in SC. As Fr. Z suggests, wider experience of the traditional mass will make such an assessment better grounded – and likely to produce genuine organic development of the liturgy.

  15. “If it is desirable to make the newer form, the Ordinary Form, more like the Extraordinary Form, why not just use the Extraordinary Form?”

    In brief, because it’s just not possible at the present time. Even if every priest wanted to celebrate the EF, few are qualified to do so.

    The OF by now has gone so far astray from whatever the Council Fathers intended that, in order to faithfully implement their recommendations, admittedly the most efficient and logical way might be to start afresh with the EF and proceed to make those changes that are now agreed upon. I suspect that such a reform of the TLM would not go as far as even the 1965 Order, which might now be seen as too much in the spirit of those chaotic times.

    But even if Benedict’s goal is to make the OF look much like the EF, the overriding reason NOT to just go back to the EF (which most of here would probably prefer) is that–as a practical matter–this would be a greater disruption than is feasible with our fine sensitivity to the people in the pews (which of course was entirely lacking in the 1960s), in addition to being impossible for lack of qualified priests. So the only way forward is to start with the OF where it is now and proceed by reforming is as rapidly as possible (given the people constraints) with the EF as a stable model.

  16. St. Rafael says:

    If you simply return to the older form, what becomes of that call by the Council? Is that not, in effect, a repudiation of Sacrosanctum Concilium?

    Sacrosanctum Concilium should be repudiated. Sacrosanctum Concilium was Bugnini’s document. It was the answer of the progressives to the traditional schema on the liturgy. People forget that the traditional schemas from Vatican II were thrown out. Archbishop Bugnini and the Modernists replaced the traditional conservative document on the liturgy with Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    The Vatican II documents including Sacrosanctum Concilium will have to be ignored or forgotten until a future Pope either repeals or fixes Vatican II.

    A true organic development of the liturgy will have to start from scratch taking the 1955 0r 1962 Missal for its basis and work without reference to Vatican II and the Novus Ordo of 1969.

  17. Panterina says:

    One of Pope Benedict’s intentions with the provision of Summorum Pontificum was (…) to kick-start the organic development of Holy Church’s worship.

    Precisely! Doing the EF does tend to rub onto the OF. For example, in the OF, our pastor started doing a genuflexion before each elevation. When a “liturgical policeperson” inquired about the extra genuflections, the good Father replied something to the effect of “it’s an additional act of reverence: do you have a problem with that?” The OF altar servers also started to ring at the “Hanc igitur” and even sometimes do the 1-3-1 rings at the elevations instead of the single ring: It just “sounds” right!

    If this development is what the Holy Father is envisioning, then I bet that in a few years the differences between the two forms won’t be as noticeable.

  18. wmeyer says:

    “…our fine sensitivity to the people in the pews (which of course was entirely lacking in the 1960s)…”

    Ah, you mean shock and awe? I went straight from the Latin Mass to a “folk Mass”. Talk about a rupture!

  19. Gregorius says:

    “If it is desirable to make the newer form, the Ordinary Form, more like the Extraordinary Form, why not just use the Extraordinary Form?”

    This is a very good point, and it was this line of reasoning which caused me to switch entirely from the Liturgy of the Hours to the Roman Breviary.

    In my lovely little corner of Christendom, there will be lovely EF Masses every once in a while. Everything is by the book, and everyone loves it! However, when celebrating the Ordinary Form, they go back to hiding the Latin and the incense, using the free-standing altars to the ignoring of pre-existing altars, communion in the hand, altar girls, praise and worship music, and the like. Even among younger, more orthodox priests, it’s like there’s a mindset that you CAN’T incorporate those wonderful EF practices into the OF, that you HAVE to celebrate the OF facing the people or make it appeal to the lowest common denominator. The whole point of this reform of the reform and gravitational-pull business is to have the faithful step back and re-examine what the texts actually say. The reform is there to make the Church’s riches more accessible to all the faithful, not to whitewash those treasures. So before people start advocating for questionable things like adding whole parts of one form to another, why not first promote stuff that’s actually in the book first, like actually singing the Mass texts, or celebrate ad orientem?

  20. “People forget that the traditional schemas from Vatican II were thrown out.

    Actually, the preparatory schema on the liturgy–prepared by a commission that included Bugnini–was not ditched along with the others, but served as the basis for a methodical revision in a perhaps slightly more conservative direction by the conciliar liturgical commission (which did not include Bugnini, who had been banished by John XXIII) taking into account some 850 amendments submitted by the bishops.

    The real problem came after the close of the Council, when Bugnini was rehabilitated by Paul VI and put essentially in charge of a so-called implementation with a new commission consisting largely of liturgical activists, that basically ditched Sacrosanctum Concilium and started afresh in secret sessions, developing the Novus Ordo while the Church as a whole thought it was implementing the Council in the form of the 1965 Order of Mass.

  21. jbas says:

    I agree with Fr. Z. If every priest will just offer the O.F. as the ordinary form of the Mass, and the E.F. at least once a week on Sundays and more solemn feasts, then the Holy Spirit will be free to guide any organic influence of one on the other, as He sees fit. There’s no need for individual priests to plan this influence. It will develop organically over the generations.
    Aggressive attempts by individual priests to force the “gravitational pull” before the E.F. has settled into parochial life throughout one’s diocese will only lead to confusion, frustration and episcopal opposition. I say this from personal experience and after several personal mistakes along these lines.

  22. Jon says:


    That, indeed, is the $64,000 question – and also btw, one that belongs on a cup and bumper sticker!

    And for those of you who would like to actually like to see the ’65 Mass again, here it is: http://www.coreyzelinski.8m.com/1965_Mass/

  23. Jon says:


    That, indeed, is the $64,000 question – and also btw, one that belongs on a cup and bumper sticker!

    And for those of you who would actually like to see the ’65 Mass again, here it is: http://www.coreyzelinski.8m.com/1965_Mass/

  24. Phil_NL says:

    Sometimes it is said that the more the Ordinary Form is celebrated in the style of and with elements of the older form, the better it is.

    I doubt I’ll be making many new friends here with this, but I disagree on this. Yes, the style of the EF is generally far superior, at least in practice. Some elements are superior too, no doubt about that.

    But frankly, it’s not all one-sided. A case can be made for the new lectionary, and I think that’s a good one.
    Also, the OF style of the canon is, in my opinion at least, an improvement over the silent one (the text of canon I is of course much more beautiful, but why hide that beauty? In a silent canon one will never hear it, and after the first 5 times trying to figure out where the priest is, you pay attention once, and from then onwards the mind wanders. Silence can lead to reflection, but it will seldom be reflection on that aspect – the pinnacle of Mass – that’s happening right there and then. Humans simply aren’t wired that way, certainly not laypeople in the 21st century, and frankly I doubt they ever were, as the frequent stories of people praying rosaries during the EF attest. And attention elsewhere, even on a rosary, is still not what I’d consider adding to the reverence of the Mass. Then I’d much rather have the forced attention grabber of the canon spoken aloud.)
    The readings in the venacular are another. Sadly, it’s unrealistic to assume we’ll ever be able to do with just the latin. Repeating them in the venacular can also be too much of a good thing, especially on days with long readings. (BTW, I’ve never attended a Palm Sunday in the EF – how is that handled there? The complete passion reading takes 30 minutes at least…)

    In the end, I think that – despite the somewhat dodgy initial reasoning and the often disasterous implementation – we can conclude that a few of the many changes weren’t bad ideas afterall. Let the OF exist, till we can find a way to organically find the best setup. And as Fr. Z. said, that might take more than our lifetimes.

  25. jacobi says:


    I agree with the “gravitational pull” approach. The Traditional orders now have the task not just of preserving the EF but of gradually expanding its use. Given the trends in vocations, i.e., small numbers but steady growth in the traditional orders and collapse in the others, then the EF will gradually emerge as a major factor (20 – 30 years) and Catholics ( and bishops ) will have to choose.

    The parallel route is for seminarians to be trained in the Traditional rite as well as the OF so that they can say both, e.g., 9.00 Sunday Mass OF (re-sanctified, hopefully) and 11.00 Mass EF. A few priests already do this and this practise will spread.

    Hopefully the lex orandi of the OF will then gradually return to a full expression of the lex credendi of the Church, and who knows what will happen then!

  26. I agree with Athelstan, Fr. Fox. I would say that to call for a return to the exclusive use of the Extraordinary Form is not so much a repudiation of Sacrosanctum Concilium as much as asking the Magisterium to reconsider and revise a non-dogmatic prudential command. The Church has the power to reform what She herself has instituted so long as it is not dogma, and every document within the Second Vatican Council falls under this category of being capable of being reformed.

    Does the Council have merit? Obviously, it does. As an exercise of the ordinary Magisterium, we owe it our respect, and part of that means being docile to its reforms in the sense of refraining from all polemics. To suggest respectfully that it might not have been extraordinarily wise is perfectly fine, though, as is suggesting that it would be helpful for the Church to alter the decrees of the Council. The FSSP takes this line quite often, and I agree with them.

    One thing to keep in mind is that in opting for a Liturgy totally in the vernacular and with the proclamation of the Mass prayers out loud, both of these are significant concessions to Protestantism, toward the style of Protestantism and away from Roman ways of doing things. Canon IX of the Twenty-second session of the Council of Trent specifically addresses both of these things as quite bad:

    “CANON IX.–If any one saith, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; or, that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice, for that it is contrary to the institution of Christ; let him be anathema.”

    I’ll leave it to canon lawyers to work out how to reconcile this with the reforms of the Mass, but I will say that it is obvious to all that Mass completely in the vernacular (not partly in the vernacular, but entirely) and Mass with the prayers out loud are not in keeping with Roman Liturgical form very well.

  27. Phil: BTW, I’ve never attended a Palm Sunday in the EF – how is that handled there? The complete passion reading takes 30 minutes at least…

    At the last solemn high Mass of Palm Sunday, three clerics took 39 minutes to chant the Passion Gospel, while of course we all stood. When the priest ascended the pulpit, he said … I trust that there will be no objection if, just this once, I dispense with the vernacular readings.

    I, for one, would be happy if they are always dispensed with. Anyone who is interested can follow the readings in his Latin-English missal, so repetition is superfluous (and hence tedious).

    Incidentally, I believe the mile-wide-inch-deep 3-year lectionery–with so many of the “hardest” and deeping readings deleted or relegated to whichever weekday in whichever week of ordinary time–to be one of the least successful aspects of the OF. With the same readings on the same Sunday year after year, a scriptural familiarity is inculcated, where as the more superficial OF readings changing every year, are quickly forgotten because no one has a 3-year retention span.

  28. Jonathan:

    Actually, the Canon IX you quote is no problem at all. You have to read these things with excruciating care, as they were crafted with just the same care.

    Read it again: it doesn’t rule out the Church allowing either vernacular or proclaiming prayers aloud; it anathematizes those call into question liturgy that does not do these things.

    Whether something can be labeled a “Protestant” idea is immaterial, unless you can show that there’s something intrinsically non-Catholic about it–but be careful, that risks taking the same narrowness that this canon anathematizes! So while there are those who simply wave away an idea because the Protestants were associated with it, I’m going to be a bit more insistent. Is there, actually, something intrinsically problematic–for Catholic worship–in using the vernacular? In proclaiming prayers, and texts, aloud, so that people may hear them? I think there is a need for someone to make that case, not assume it.

  29. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Gravity is, of course, the weakest of the fundamental forces. :-(

  30. On repudiating Sacrosanctum Concilium

    Well, it’s awfully easy for someone to say this, but not terribly meaningful till we consider what this means.

    If this is done by the pope, no doubt this will cheer the hearts of some, but what do you think would happen in that instance? “Pope repudiates Vatican II” is a foreseeable headline. This raises all manner of theological questions, not to mention other problems to boot. Is it really that hard to understand the reluctance around this course of action?

    Of course, another ecumenical council could do it. Show of hands for that option?

    Let’s get real: the Church isn’t going to do this. She may move in a different direction, but there’s not going to be a direct repudiation.

  31. jbas says:

    Yes, indeed. But the very powerful forces that quickly swept aside familiar liturgy in the Sixties and Seventies did damage. The Sacred Liturgy should develop organically, both in manner and in speed. The development should seem more like the growth of a tree than the work of a chain saw. When it comes to changing the rites of the Church, a single generation should have in its possession only the weakest force of will in doing so.

  32. jasoncpetty says:

    Man, that 1965 Missal linked above makes me almost cry a little for what might have been…

  33. Traductora says:

    I don’t know what the Pope will do about Sacronsanctum Concilium, but I suspect the Year of Faith proclaimed to “celebrate” Vatican II may have a different outcome than many of the fans of Vatican II expect.

    The sticking point with the old mass is actually the Latin, as much as I love Latin, because our modern clergy is nowhere near as well educated as that of previous generations and for some reason languages seem to beyond them. They don’t need to be able to chat with Caesar, but even learning to say the words with a side-by-side translation is a challenge most of them will not or cannot undertake. So the stumbling block isn’t necessarily the people, but the clergy.

    If the Pope simply went back to the 1965 missal and its official, approved translations (allowing the option for either all Latin, all translation, or a combination of the two), he would certainly still be honoring Vatican II but at the same time he would be taking us back exactly to just before the point where the rupture began.

    Also, I don’t like the new lectionary at all. We almost have no St Paul, and instead nothing but mystifying readings from the Old Testament that priests are too ignorant or confused to preach on because they are told by our Protestantizing Biblical scholars that they may no longer see analogies and prefigurements in these readings but have to take the readings literally. Bring back the old lectionary and then make gradual changes after considerable consultation. And, in fact, bring back the old calendar too, and just add the new saints.

    OK, that’s my prescription…but I’m not the Pope, and I doubt that his is the same! So we shall see.

  34. anilwang says:

    Blue Henn and pjthom81,

    The 1965 Missal was essentially an English translation of TLM:

    It’s my understanding that the 1967 missal was essentially the same as the 1965 except that some repetition was removed (e.g. Lord have Mercy) and the Last Gospel was optional.

    The 1969 missal was when the innovators went wild, but it was clear that even if the 1965 missal was used, much the the damage done to the NO would still happen (see Change of Habit, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-S3K6wXYpg , which was released in 1969 but likely existed as a screen play a few years earlier), so it might be a good thing that the TLM was preserved free of corruption.

  35. anilwang says:

    (X)MCCLXIII’s comment that gravity is the weakest of all forces, that’s not entirely true. Black holes are a counter example. Strength of forces is determined by which scale you are looking at. At the astronomical scale, gravity is the strongest of all the forces, and the more mass you have in a smaller space, the stronger the gravitational force. You simply can’t have something equivalent to a black hole using the electromagnetic or strong nuclear or weak nuclear force

    An analogy from daily life suffices. Of “the four classical elements”, fire or earth (earthquakes, volcanoes) or air (tornadoes) seem a whole lot more powerful than water (floods) to dramatically change an area in a short period of time. Yet a single stream of water can do more to change an area than any of the above (think the Grand Canyon). Perspective and patience make all the difference.

    The forces that ravaged the NO were more like a tornado than a stream of water. The progress EF s more akin to a stream of water slowly eroding and reshaping the landscape. In the long run, the EF or enhanced NO which is effectively a subset of EF except that it has the NO lectionary is the one I would bet on.

  36. pjthom81 says:


    Re-read my post very carefully. I did not anywhere state that Vatican II called for any such changes in the Mass, and the date of the introduction of the Novus Ordo vs. the translation of 1965 would make such an interpretation implausible. The “some” I reference were those who made the decision in 1970. I also included quote marks around “improve” in my post so that, if you are to quote me I believe the three quote mark ‘”improve”‘ would be correct. The reason for my original quote marks is, of course, sarcasm.

    However, I feel that those who made the changes need to be critiqued on their merits, and as Paul VI’s explanation seems official, I submitted it as the reasons given for the change in the liturgy.

  37. Blue Henn says:

    :) Thanks for the enlightenment, everyone!

  38. pjthom81 says:

    On another note, I did try an interesting experiment in placing the 1965 Mass and the current (new) translation of the Novus Ordo side by side. The major differences I can identify are (1) prayers at the foot of the altar are now ommitted, (2) the additional reading with the cycles in the N.O., (3) the difference in offeratory prayers, (3) the options in the eucharistic prayers in the N.O, (4) prayers concerning the communion of the Priest, and (5) the addition of the sign of peace and prayers of the faithful in the N.O.

    That said, we seem to be an awful lot closer with the new translation than we were to the 1965 translation. Without minimizing the differences, I honestly was struck by the similarities. I agree with traductora that the 1965 Missal could probably be reintroduced in a few years without much confusion.

  39. Ah, Father Fox, I agree with you! :) I was not trying to demonstrate that the Canon in question anathematizes those who call for vernacular or prayers out loud, I was attempting to show that the Council found the Roman Liturgical Traditions of silent prayers at Mass and of Latin being the primary Liturgical language important enough to defend them with an anathema. It doesn’t anathematize someone for merely suggesting vernacular our vocalized prayers, but it does show, by valid inference, that both Latin and silent pray constitute an important part of our Liturgical patrimony. That’s all I meant by “Roman ways of doing things.”

    The way I see it Father (and believe me, I may be wrong! I make no claim to be an expert on these things, merely an informed Roman Catholic who dearly loves Roman Tradition) there is a difference between the question of narrowness that the Canon was addressing, and discerning the Patrimony of Latin Liturgical heritage, which is on display in the Canon and which is, together with all other Catholic Rites, guided in its development by the Holy Ghost over millennia.

    With that thought in mind, and in answer to your fantastic question, I think that a case cab definitely be made that both vernacular and vocalization are intrinsically un-Catholic in the context of – and this is very important – Roman Liturgical patrimony. In the Eastern Rites, the Liturgy is commonly celebrated in the vernacular and the entire Liturgy is vocalized, but they have an equivalent Liturgical practice to silent prayer and a sacred language: the Iconostasis I believe it is called, the screen of Icons that represents the holiness of Heaven and Heaven itself, with the Sacrifice of the Eucharist going on out of sight on the Altar-Table by the Priests, in mirror of the Lamb Slain in Heaven appearing before the Father in the Apocalypse. The Roman Tradition of quiet prayers and Latin and the Eastern Tradition of the Iconostasis represent this very important fact: What is going on on the Altar is so Sacred, and so Holy, with God descending to earth and appearing in our presence, that profane eyes should not even look at the Mystery that is being accomplished, or if eyes look, there ought to at least be a verbal veil just as there was a veil in the Judaic Temple. This is, I would suggest, a universal, ancient Ecclesiastical Tradition present in all Rites in some form, and is a universal Catholic Tradition, something that the Protestants broke with in their generally loose attitude toward the sacredness of God in many cases. It is this reason among others, I would suggest, that Trent made a point of anathematizing those who threatened this Catholic Tradition and the Roman Liturgical heritage of how it is to be applied.

    So in summary, we have two breaches, two aspects of the hermeneutic of discontinuity: 1) Not showing adequate respect to an intrinsic aspect of Roman Liturgical heritage going back to the middle of the first Millennium at least, and more seriously, 2) Violating a key Catholic and Universal principle of Liturgical piety going back just as long. It is not that vernacular or vocalization are in and of themselves inherently bad or un-Catholic; rather, they are, in the context of Roman Liturgy, if i may say so, a thumbing of the nose at the way Roman Liturgy has always offered its worthy Ritual to the Holy Trinity, and again in the context of the Roman Rite, a breach of that ancient Catholic and Universal Tradition. That is the case I would make.

    If you would like a more in-depth treatment of the things I have mentioned, from someone who knows a great deal more about it than I, search for “livemasschannel” on YouTube (one word) and watch both presentations by Father Calvin Goodwin of the FSSP, titled “The Latin Mass” and “Ascent of Mt. Tabor.” Both presentations are brilliant, as is he.

  40. anilwang says:

    Traductora, wrt the new lectionary, recognize that in the early Church, the Old Testament was used primarily for a while (since there was no New Testament) along with the Gospel and some readings. This served the early martyrs well so I don’t look down on it.

    The comment “priests are too ignorant or confused to preach on the Old Testament” would not be helped by eliminating the Old Testament. Look at today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:1-16). a “confused” priest might well preach that “God is generous and it doesn’t matter how much you do in this life, God will reward you the same as the greatest saint. So don’t worry. Be happy. God loves you.”

    If the problem is preaching, there’s a simple answer that’s applicable to both the NO and EF, namely a preaching database. If someone created a database of a database of hundreds of freely available high quality homilies for each day of the lectionary and bishops encouraged their priests to use those homilies as models for their own homilies (or even outright plagiarize them if they have a mental block or lack the time to prepare a proper homily), then the quality of preaching would dramatically improve.

  41. By the way, I appreciate the pleasant conversation, Father. Ad multos annos to you!

  42. Clinton R. says:

    The biggest thing for me with the Novus Ordo is not just that the Mass is in the vernacular, but the Mass is said ad populum. It saddens me that Mass is presented as more of a performance rather than our greatest prayer to God. Anyone who has seen the Mass at the Los Angeles Archdiocese Religious Ed. Congress can see the horror of the Mass presented as a spectacle. It is as if we, the congregation, are the focal point of the Mass instead of Jesus. We have to be entertained and if we don’t clap and dance and sing silly songs, then we are not “actively participating”. The musicians are playing at us and for us. It’s all about us in the pews. I don’t know about most of you, but the tabernacle in my parish faces against the rear of the ambo. So when we have the general intercession during Mass, the lector or deacon has his back to Our Lord at the same time we are asking Him to hear our prayers. Then again, during this post Vatican II era in the Church, we have largely turned our back on Him and now worship the golden calf of Modernism. The same modernism St. Pope Pius X so presciently warned of.

  43. St. Epaphras says:

    Amen and you got that right! to Clinton R. at 5:07.
    Re. 1965 Missal: more differences with today’s NO than one might think. Different Calendar today, about a bazillion more “options” including EP’s. The entire experience of Mass was just different. My first reaction to the 1970 Mass was something like “YUK!!! What have they DONE to the Mass??” and I was a teenager still. The second, I think, was something very negative about the meet and greet thing they had thrust into the midst of Holy Mass. As in: “Why? This is stupid.”

    Anyhow I still miss that 1965. There is really no comparison; at least it didn’t leave you wondering if it was a Catholic Mass. (We had one EF per Sunday for a while so I could compare the two.)

  44. Jonathan:

    I liked your answer very much. It would be glib of me to say I entirely agree, because it deserves more thought than I could have given it at this point. But it’s a very interesting argument, thank you for making a good one.

    That said, it seems to go right back where I ended up before: what to do with Sacrosanctum Concilium, which of course specifically allowed for the vernacular, although I don’t think it specifically addressed the practice of speaking prayers aloud.

    One might argue, of course, as some do that SC must go. That is more than I will claim to know! But one might well argue that, as capable as your argument is–and I realize others make it too–that an ecumenical council, presumptively superintended by the Holy Ghost, is a better judge of what is truly in accord with our tradition. Which gives rise to a further point: that if one is going to argue for chucking a document ratified by the council–and the pope–even after one demonstrates it can be done, one is bound, I think, to meet a very high threshold in order to win that point.

    In all candor, making due allowances for the merits of all who post here…it’s rather hard to imagine any of us accomplishing such a high hurdle. The presumption goes to the Magisterium (take that, NcR folks!)

  45. Clinton R, I could not agree more. In the Church I attend, which is on the reverent side of ad populum, vernacular Novus Ordos, the ornate Tabernacle is at the back of the Church (at least it’s in the center!) and the prayers and intercessions are directed at the congregation and not at the Lord in the Tabernacle.

  46. wmeyer says:

    Fr Martin, my reading of SC is somewhat different. I find the provisions for the vernacular to have been made really in the context of exceptions offered for application in mission lands. Of course, as has been observed here recently, the Church in America by now has reverted to mission land status, tattered and shrunken.

  47. acardnal says:

    As Fr. Z often reminds us, we are Latin Rite Catholics, therefor, we should use Latin in our liturgy. Moreover, SC states that Latin should be retained.

  48. acardnal says:

    FYI, this link, which was mentioned above, has a Trojan Horse which was blocked by my AV application:


  49. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Ahem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interaction (It’s past my bedtime, so I’m taking the easy way out).

    Of course, if you have enough mass… (which is one more reason why we need more EF, er, Masses.)

    Pip! Pip!

  50. JonathanCatholic, Thanks for your beautiful remarks on the Roman liturgical patrimony. The best explication of the “ethos” of the Roman liturgy (for beginners)–including the silent canon and Latin as an iconostasis–that I have seen or heard was given by Fr. Calvin Goodwin FSSP perhaps not in his longer expositions you cited, but in his sermon in the first post-SP TLM telecast on EWTN:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/goodwinmass.HTM (transcribed text)

    Well worth not only reading but hearing:

    http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/download/ewtn/multicast/audio/mp3/latin830.mp3 (20 min audio)

    Even better to see as well as hear:


  51. Father Fox:

    Thank you, I appreciate your praise and candor, and your willingness to take it seriously. I certainly can take no more credit for the argument then having simply ‘done my homework’ as they say. It is definitely something that requires a lot of thought.

    Regarding what to do with SC and the authority of the Council, I agree that to my recollection it never definitively addressed saying the prayers of the Mass out loud. Regarding Latin in the Liturgy, something is rather striking about the document. I would suggest it poses less of a problem than one would think, since to my memory it never commands that the Liturgy be offered in the vernacular. On the contrary, it seems to present a vernacular Liturgy of the Mass as purely an optional aspect of the Mass, with a stronger emphasis within that presentation on partial use of the vernacular (say, in the readings, for example). The restraining principle that it lays down quite explicitly is that, quote, “…use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”- SC, 36.1 I would think one would be hard pressed to interpret the document as suggesting a sweeping reform of a totally vernacular Mass, considering that guiding principle that Latin is to be retained. Though I certainly am not qualified, I would venture a guess that any talk of getting rid of SC is not even necessary because of how limited the document is in its propositions. To give another quote from the document:

    “2. But since the use of the mother tongue (English, for example- JonathanCatholic), whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

    3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.”- SC 36.2-3

    Again, it is for the Magisterium to decide, but this does not strike me as mandating sweeping reform as much as *allowing* for *some* of the ‘mother tongue’ of various lands to be employed in the Roman Liturgy. This is a nebulous and vague decree from the Council and is basically in favor of a judgment call of the Bishops of various places and the Holy See, and judgment calls can certainly be reversed more easily than commands from Ecumenical Councils.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your last point regarding the Magisterium and got a chuckle out of your Fishwrap reference. I always return to that old analogy of the three-legged stool representing the Church, the legs standing for Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. At this point, Vatican II, along with all the other Ecumenical Councils, belong to the realm of Sacred Tradition, and together with Sacred Scripture constitute the one Revelation of God as Dei Verbum taught. It is the duty and privilege of the Magisterium now to interpret and draw up a systematic theology of how to interpret Vatican II in light of prior Sacred Tradition, and how Vatican II, in its ordinary Magisterium, interprets prior Sacred Tradition. There is always going to be this tension between Sacred Tradition and clarifications of Sacred Tradition, which is a golden example of why the Magisterium is so necessary to add oil to the cogs and wheels as the Church moves forward in its indefectible manner until the end of time. That is why I pray for more official clarifications, especially in the way of the Sacred Liturgy, to come from the Holy See in my lifetime.

  52. Jack Orlando says:

    The lectionary is the best feature of the OF. Anyone who thinks Scripture is only “an inch deep” doesn’t know scripture, needs to attend the OF for three years, and hear the three year lectionary. I know atheists who judge Scripture an inch deep; that a Christian makes such a claim is quite shocking.

    Those who say the new lectionary has “almost no St. Paul” don’t know the new lectionary and need to spend three years in the OF to learn the new lectionary.

    Those who say that “no one has a 3-year retention span” speak only for themselves. I have such a retention span. So do most people. anilwang is quite correct that good preaching deepens the people reception of Scripture.

    I live in a part of the USA where if Catholics don’t know Scripture — all of Scripture — they will be eaten alive by Protestants, and likely convert to the same.

  53. WMeyer, Jonathan:

    Well, let me take a wild side, and now speak of my personal preference (it being understood that my personal preference takes a back seat to what the Church indicates)…

    I would favor having the option, routinely, of at least the readings in the vernacular. I will not gussy up that point with anything more than it is my preference.

  54. Ambrose Jnr says:

    The quickest way to get the EF back all over the place, in my opinion, would be a radical ecumenical gesture: Scrap the orinary form of the Roman rite and replace it with the catholic Byzantine Greek liturgy, so that all Western rite priests have the choice between the EF and the Byzantine liturgy. This way we are ecumenical, and the Church will breathe with both her lungs again ;-P

  55. I would agree, that we should go back to the EF. The tide is turning which is a good thing. I could make an argument against the new lectionary…the old lectionary, the readings were more tied to the lives of the Saints (my own observations). Also, I would argue that Scripture is taken away from the Mass every time we replace the propers with hymns.

  56. Joe:

    You’re right about the propers and hymns, but you can’t blame Vatican II for that. Substituting hymns for propers happened before the Council. The Council didn’t directly address the subject, other than to encourage use of Gregorian chant, but I think one cannot fairly tag the Council as making that worse.

  57. The reason that we should not simply go back to the extraordinary form is that it does not solve the problem. The faithful were robbed of their right to legitimate liturgical reform when Vatican II was hijacked by “spirits,” and it is long past time that we got the liturgical reform to which we are entitled, and which our shepherds owe us as a sacred duty and solemn obligation. I still maintain that if the unchanged extraordinary form alone were the answer, things would not have gone as badly wrong as they did. One huge reason that things went so sour is that legitimate liturgical reform was delayed too long. By the time changes were made, it was too late to stop all the nuttiness that eventually prevailed. The aging hippies of today, the nuns gone wild, and all the cowardly Catholic politicians of the 1960’s through the 1980’s attended what is now known as the extraordinary form of Mass in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Clearly, we need more than just to go back to the way things were. The ship ran aground because it was off course and no one made the necessary course corrections. In space, even a 1 degree deviance will eventually put a ship millions of kilometers off course if not corrected. By that point, just going back to the original course won’t do the trick, and maybe a whole new course must be plotted. And in the case of a ship that has run aground, repairs must be made first.

  58. Father Fox:

    I agree with you on the readings. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard that this was fairly common prior to the Council in some areas where it had received an indult, in the context of the Extraordinary Form.

  59. Stephen Matthew says:

    To answer “Why not?”

    Language is above all the block in that road. If you put in the 62 missal in the vernacular you would get few objections. If you put in the 69 missal in Latin (or a modern foreign language) you will get many objections.

    It is quite easy to look at some particular aspect of liturgy and appreciate it, at least as a theory, and to want to gain the spiritual advantages of that aspect of a particular liturgical tradition. However, to make the conversion to Latin only in the liturgy, is a very large step for those who have never known this. It is not purely a matter of language, but also a matter of a different sort of spiritual approach, one that is not easy to construct artificially, but which was once maintained generation to generation in an organic way, and which can not now be recreated by mere whim, but rather would be a slow and challenging process. The missal of 62 as experienced (subjectively) by people today is a rather different thing than it was in 62, because the modes of the receivers are very different today.

  60. fvhale says:

    Why not just use the Extraordinary Form?

    Protests in all the media by shunned female altar servers, lots of laid-off lectors, and platoons of excessed Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The Ordinary Form has really come to involve many of the “ordinary folk” in the parishes, and taking it away from them would not be appreciated, at all.

    Prudence would dicate that instead of this “nuclear option,” it would be better to work to imcrementally make the Ordinary Form more referent, more holy, more “say the black….” etc. Take little steps, in peace and love.

  61. Indulgentiam says:

    Fvhale: “Prudence would dicate that instead of this “nuclear option,” it would be better to work to imcrementally make the Ordinary Form more referent,…”

    I disagree. If the N.O were a product it would have been recalled 49 yeas ago. Look at how much harm it has already done. Faithful completely ignorant of the CCC, contracepting, divorcing, shacking up, Priests and Nuns a law unto themselves. Regardless of what the N.O was “Intended” to be, it is in the vast majority of parishes a scandal and an affront to the Almighty. Anyone who surveys the Catholic landscape now and compares it to what it was before “innovations” where introduced, as early as the 30’s, will clearly see the destruction. Whatever was intended with N.O the result has been harmful so recall it before it does anymore. If the N.O was a bad bottle of Tylenol it would have been recalled pronto and that would only kill the body. As for the shunned female servers, laid off lectors and platoons of em’s making boo boo faces, this is the vale of tears let’em boo hoo. They’ll be grateful later.

  62. vetusta ecclesia says:

    I am convinced (and I was around in 1970) that if the NO had been introduced keeping the old offertory prayers and with them and the Canon in Latin, celebrated ad orientem, the man in the pew would have accepted that there had been an organic reform and would have found it acceptable, while the modernists would have felt less able to “modernise”.

  63. JonPatrick says:

    This has been a very interesting discussion.

    @fvhale, any real reform will involve groups of people whose function has now changed or been eliminated. If they are really motivated by serving God and not “playing priest” or some other motive, they would accept a different role. For example, EMHC’s still have the role of bringing communion to the sick and shut-in. Also they could retrain as altar servers, which will be especially needed if there is a return to the Missa Cantata and Solemnis forms of the EF. There seems to be a perception in the NO that only children can be altar servers, this perception needs to be changed.

  64. Jack Orlando,

    Just to clarify what my judgement–that the OF lectionary lacks the spiritual and liturgical depth of the EF lectionary–is based on. I have attended the OF on Sundays through over a dozen three-year cycles. I have also attended daily OF Mass through many years of two-year cycles. But I have also attended the EF through the complete annual cycle of daily and Sunday Masses. I generally study the readings, often checking multiple translations, in advance of each Mass to prepare myself for receptivity and comprehension during the Mass itself. (In addition, I read several chapters of scripture daily, in saying the complete OF Liturgy of the Hours, incorporating the OF missal propers in their new translations and original Latin, and otherwise, reading through different translations of the Bible from time to time).

    I suspect that one who does not realize what I mean–whether or not he personally agrees with it–likely does not have this depth of experience and familiarity with both the OF and EF lectionaries, and the scriptures overall. And I must wonder personally how anyone without this breadth of experience can have a truly informed opinion on their relative merits.

  65. Blaise says:

    It amazes me the number of people who equate the OF with the vernacular in such a way as to imply at least that Latin is the preserve of the EF. It goes along with people who talk about the “Latin Mass” as if it were the EF, not helped by the LMS being so called, here in the UK at least. The Latin Mass is the OF just as much as the EF.

    I think Fr Z could answer the question himself if he wanted to and Fr Fox’s excellent posts would be indicative of what the asnwer should be.

    The need for the EF to inform the OF is so that the OF can be reclaiemd and celebrated as envisaged by SC (to the extent the OF was envisaged by it at all); versus deum, in Latin (with vernacular readings), using EP I prayed audibly , with gregorian chant if there is singing (or polyphony in continuity with tradition), the antiphons, such that the people of the body of Christ might participate actuosa through joining themselves in spirit with the prayers being made by the priest on behalf of (and heard by) the people.

    I am happy for the EF to be celebrated much more and will willingly attend but what I really really want is for the OF to be celebrated properly. Decent preaching to go with it would be a nice extra.

  66. Phil_NL says:

    Blaise, you’re right, latin isn’t and shouldn’t be the preserve of the EF. Thankfully, there are places where the OF has plenty of it. But I do think that ‘Latin Mass’ as a term has at least the merit of being accurate, as the EF doesn’t allow the venacular. It is always in latin.

    On the one hand this is a strong suit, it adds beauty, a sense of specialness / sacrality and gives us a common langauge, even if we’d otherwise share none (espiecally nice when travelling abroad). On the other, it is a weakness, because fluency in latin is extremely low. it’s poor among many priests, it’s often non-existent among the laity. This means that a homily in the venacular is essential, and than pretty much requires the readings in the venacular as well. Repeating them is quite cumbersome (and I suspect that what Henry Edwards – thanks for answering my question! – describes is common: if it’s too long, there will be a tendecy to dispense with it (or perhaps otherwise make up for it; a distant relative, priest in the pre-vatican II days, was said to be able to say Mass in well under 30 minutes. I hope he only did so in emergencies…).
    Someday that issue has to be hammered out. Whether by allowing venacular readings in the EF, the worldwide availability of missalettes with translations and universal literacy, or perhaps a return to fluency to latin I wouldn’t know. That day is probably far enough in the future that any of these could be possible.

  67. Austin says:

    The Catholic wing of Anglicanism had (has) what could have been an excellent solution to liturgical reform in the English Missal. Essentially the Tridentine Rite using Cranmerian Tudor prose style — for whatever Cranmer’s heretical path, he was a superb stylist. Coverdale psalms; also hardly to be improved upon. Some issues with the Authorized Version of the Scriptures that could have been resolved by cross reference to Douay-Rheims.

    I had hoped that the Anglican Ordinariate would end up with this — essentially a vernacular version of the Extraordinary Form as an optional liturgy, if not the primary liturgy. Unfortunately, it appears that the modernizers at CDF and Ordinariate leadership are hostile to the idea.

  68. Jack Orlando says:

    Henry Edwards’ argument comes down to this: “Only those who know Scripture as well as I do can rightly evaluate the two lectionaries.” This may indeed be true! Yet what is unproven is that I and others who prefer the new lectionary don’t have the same knowledge of Scripture. So his argument must be rejected. Furthermore, with the three-year lectionary, more people will have the chance to have the same knowledge as Henry Edwards. Thus he has made an excellent argument for the three-year cycle. I pray he wishes for more such people. Let a thousand Henry Edwardses bloom.

  69. Nathan says:

    Two things:

    First, Father Fox, thank you for actually engaging on an issue that I (as an explicit “TLM Partisan”) have been waiting for years to read–making the case that elements of the liturgical reform are worthy of defending, and here’s an outline. For well on thirty years, almost all I have heard when Trads would make objections to the Novus Ordo was along the lines of “well, we like it that way” or “that’s what it is, now shut up” or “liturgists say that was the way it was done before the Tridentine accretions.” Perhaps now we’re moving to an actual discussion of the merits of the liturgical changes outside of “trad-land” proper.

    Second, to amplify on what the gentlemanly Henry Edwards has said–the one-year cycle of Sunday readings as passed down through the TLM is amazingly constructed and rich, while the OF three-year cycle seems, at times, to be watered down and un-focused.

    My favorite example is the gospels of the Sundays of Lent. In the TLM, the gospels progress in a way that makes it absolutely clear that Christ was not crucified because he was a “misunderstood hippie guru” or simply a pacifist teacher. The progression, in a nutshell, is 1) Temptation of Christ (“if you are the Son of God…), 2) Transfiguration (Christ revealed in transcendence), 3) Christ is accused of casting out devils on the authority of Beelzebub, and Christ claims that he does so on His own authority, 4) Miraculous feeding of 5000, where Christ escapes to avoid being made secular king, and 5) Christ makes the statement that earns Him the death penalty–“before Abraham was, I AM.” All in all, it is abundantly clear by the time you get to Palm Sunday that Our Lord has made the unmistakable claim (and unshakable case) that He is God and that the religious leaders of the temple and synagogue know it.

    By contrast, the Novus Ordo has a larger set of fine readings, but in the sequence of each year, the case leading up to the Passion is not nearly as strong. While every year the first two Sundays also have Christ in the desert and the Transfiguration, Year A has a focus on Our Lord as a miracle worker and eternal life; Year B has three readings from St John’s gospel that are good (cleansing of the temple, believe to everlasting life, and the grain of wheat) but somewhat disconnected; and Year C has parables and the woman caught in adultery, again good but not leading to the Passion in the clear way that the TLM does so.

    Of course, in years B and C it is possible to go to Masses during Lent where you’ll hear the Lenten readings for the year one week and the RCIA option for hearing the Year A readings the next.

    Again, I’m not claiming that there’s something wrong with the OF cycle of Lenten gospels, only that the TLM makes a powerful and amazing progression to Holy Week while being more focused in that direction than the OF cycle.

    While perhaps not as clear, I’ve seen similar progression in the TLM Gospels of Advent and Paschal Time as well. The only time I’ve noticed (they may be there, I admit a bit of a bias) such a progression in the OF is during summer in Year B, where Our Lord’s Bread of Life discourse from St John’s gospel is proclaimed.

    In Christ,

  70. Phil,

    In recent years of attending EF Mass on Sundays, I’ve never seen the vernacular readings omitted, with the sole exception of the Passion Sunday readings as I mentioned (and a single other occasion when a lengthy read statement from the bishop replaced the usual scripture-based sermon). Of course, it’s also the case that in all OF papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica the Gospel is chanted only in Latin.

    Nor have I recently attended a Sunday TLM where stacks of the ubiquitous 4-page Latin-English leaflet of propers and readings were not made available to the laity (along with the ubiquitious red Latin-English missalettes). So in my U.S. experience, all the prayers and readings appear already to be universally available in Latin as well as English. Even so, my mixed feelings on the matter include (in addition my purely personal preference previously stated) a sympathy for vernacular readings for the special attraction of those TLM newcomers who do not initially know how to use these ubiquitous Latin-English resources, and therefore have the (incorrect) impression that a lack of Latin knowledge renders the EF inaccessible to them.

    At the same time, it must be admitted that vernacular repetitions are generally omitted at daily low Masses, where attenders are more likely to have and use their own daily hand missals. Though in some places we’re beginning to see vernacular instead of Latin readings at the altar in daily low Masses.


    As usual, an informative example filled with insight. I have my own collection of examples of singular spiritual depth in the EF readings, many of which are not found in the OF lectionary, but had not thought of the sequence of Lenten readings as so fine an example.

  71. AnAmericanMother says:


    What you said. It was actually a blessing in disguise when the Episcopalians ditched Cranmer’s majestic prose . . . made it easier for us to shake the dust of the place from our sandals.

    There are not enough “high” Anglicans in this state to support an Ordinariate parish – the Episcopalians are traditionally “low” here. But I still wish that they would just adopt Cranmer and get a good 17th c. scholar to re-translate the necessary amendments. Coverdale too.

    We do manage to sneak a good deal of Cranmer & Coverdale into our motets by singing the English Renaissance composers. “Thou knowest Lord the secrets of our hearts” is a Lenten perennial here. And our Psalms are chanted in Anglican tones.

  72. Phil_NL says:

    @Henry Edwards
    I’m pretty sure that in the West leaflets or missals can be an adequate solution. The thing is, I don’t see that work very well in poorer countries, of which there are still a lot, alas. For the time being that forces readings in the venacular, I think. And it would be good if we don’t get too many differences between countries, I’d say.

    We’ll see.

  73. Jack Orlando,

    While any informative comparison of the EF and OF lectionaries–such as that provided in Nathan’s example above–must surely be based on an intimate familiarity with both, I have nothing but praise for anyone (such as you) who is sufficiently devoted to either lectionary to love and extol its particular virtues. Each has its own merits.

    In my own case, while admittedly I am an aficionado of missals in both forms–using daily both OF and EF Latin-English missals–I am embarrassed to apparently have left any impression that I claim a great knowledge of Holy Scripture more generally. I do not.


    Certainly you make a valid point about differences between countries and cultures. Vatican II likely had such considerations in mind when it recommended more inclusion of the vernacular, if generally only (as I understand it) for mission territories.

    And there are certainly are those who will not or cannot make use of available Latin-vernacular resources even when available. In any event, many now believe that vernacular scripture readings in EF Masses may soon be more widely or explicitly approved.

  74. Nathan says:

    Jack Orlando, I fear you may have misunderstood Henry Edwards’ post that led you to comment as you did.

    Henry has made many, many comments on WDTPRS and I have never known him to ever made an ad hominem comment or come across as oversold on his own credentials. I have always found his comments to be well informed, generous, and exemplary of Christian charity and humility.

    Mr. Edwards does do his homework and has always been careful to be explicit in detailing his scope of knowledge in making a comment as well as openly stating the limitations of his analyses.

    Although I’m not invested in the substantive discussion you were having with him, I can see that it is possible for you to interpret his argument in the way that you did. I just have never seen anything he has ever said on this blog to lead me to ever think he would approach commenting in that way.

    There are many days I wish I lived a bit closer to East Tennessee so I could invite Henry for a drink to discuss things liturgical, though.

    In Christ,

  75. Thank you, Nathan, for your overly generous remarks, which attribute to me many of my own feelings about you. No doubt, my previous post left me open to an interpretation other than what I would prefer, so Jack Orlando can hardly be faulted for any impression he got or stated.

    Perhaps sometime we can find some convenient watering hole somewhere in between for that liturgy seminar–though Jack could well assume from these posts that it would more likely be a mutual admiration fest instead.

  76. Henry & Nathan:

    You make interesting arguments about the lectionary. I would argue that in the case of the Gospel readings for “year A”–which correspond with the scrutinies associate with those entering the Church at Easter–there is likewise a pleasing progression. But I admit I have not had time to develop so fine an appreciation for such liturgical “architecture” as of yet. In all candor, it has taken me some time to see the architecture of other aspects of the lectionary.

    It may be that the three-year and two-year lectionaries, like good sauce, need to cook and settle more. They are too raw, and may need some tweaking and development before we can say it’s workable or not. Granting the good argument made above, nevertheless there remains the original intention behind the newer lectionary: to introduce more of Sacred Scripture to the faithful. Don’t omit from this the clergy themselves; the newer lectionary more or less compels them to become more familiar with Sacred Scripture, as does the greater focus on Scriptural preaching in recent years.

    Oh yes, I know, there have been some terrible misfires in that regard; but I feel confident that, in time, Scriptural study and pastoral exegesis will mature. Some of the dumbest stuff, supposedly based on the historical-critical tools, are passe to real scholars. The problem is that there is an amazing lag-time between what the real scholars offer, and what filters down–up?–into articles, classrooms and pulpits.

  77. Nathan says:

    Father Fox, excellent points. I was thinking the same thing regarding “good sauce” over lunch–the TLM had 1500 years to get it right, and I agree that the new lectionary may need some time to organically develop. I also concur with your assessment of Year A Lenten Gospels–they do come together as a “prepare the catechumens for the Easter Vigil” progression. I think my enthusiasm about the TLM Lenten Gospels is that together they are profoundly Christological, which in my opinion (and that’s all it is) is precisely what that Faithful need with so many distortions out there on the question “Who is Jesus Christ” they have to face every day.

    Some of the criticism of the two and three year cycles centers around the amount involved. I think it is easier to manage and anticipate the one year cycle (there’s something comforting about being able to refer to “Missa Quasimodo” for Low Sunday) from the pews. But I don’t think that’s what has given Trads, in general, discomfort with the new lectionary. It is the perception, valid or not, that the readings have been watered down as a result. It does seem a bit sad that a Latin-rite Catholic should attend Holy Mass on Sundays during Lent and not hear the “before Abraham was, I AM,” which I think only the faithful who go to Holy Mass during the one of the first three weekdays of Holy Week will hear.

    It also seems (opinion once again, thank Almighty God that I have no authority in the matter) that scriptural illiteracy was much less of a problem (for both clergy and faithful) when there was public (and well attended) celebration of Sunday Vespers and perhaps more of the Divine Office. Could that possibly be a way to introduce more of the Sacred Scripture? My St Andrew’s Daily Missal has wonderful commentary before the Sunday Propers of the Mass on how the Mass readings complement the readings from the Divine Office.

    I’m glad you’re making the argument, Father. It helps to think through my assumptions every so often.

    In Christ,

  78. Jack Orlando says:

    I thank Nathan and Henry for their charitable remarks and regret if mine seemed less so. I thank Fr. Fox for his remarks.

    Each of the four Evangelists has a different perspective, a different theology, and a different emphasis, a different way of unfolding his story (Mark by fortnights, then weeks, then everyday of Holy Week, to almost hourly on Good Friday) — even a different reason for writing his gospel. All these perspectives should be and must be heard to get the full Scriptural picture of Our Lord, and this full perspective is offered in the OF Lectionary, Matthew in Year A, Mark in B, Luke in C, and John at Eastertide and in B when Mark is too short. To take just two examples: For Matthew, Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. For John, Christianity is the transfiguration and metamorphosis of Judaism, especially the Jewish feasts. For Luke, Christianity replaces Judaism. Mark has a more urgent issue, writing to a Church under fire. Or take St. John the Baptist. For Luke and Matthew, John is the last prophet of the old age. For Mark, he is a proto-Christian, first figure of the new age; St. John the Evangelist is similar.

    I think the OF Lectionary does offer sequence, following the Evangelist’s own sequence in Ordinary Time, and thematically in the other seasons. In Lent, the OF has a logical and beautiful development in its sequence, both weekdays and Sundays, starting with an emphasis on repentance and conversion, and gradually shifting to the Passion.

    And please think about the preacher. The EF doesn’t give him much to work with, to say nothing of not letting him develop the Evangelist’s own themes and apply them to the congregation’s lives.

    If the OF lectionary has a problem, it is the the first reading on Sundays, when the Old Testament Reading serves to mirror the Gospel reading. Why not let the OT speak for itself?

  79. Jack Orlando:

    Fascinating information! I have never had the adequate time to study the Gospels that closely, and it was very interesting for me to read what you wrote about the characteristics of the four Sainted Evangelists. I shall have to devote more time to such a discipline as learning about their characteristics.

  80. Nathan says:

    Jack Orlando, that was a very insightful post, thank you!

    Using the different Evangelists and their theologies is certainly a valid and good organizing principle, and your points about them are very well taken. In fact, I think that most Trads of good will would admit that, of the liturgical changes of the past half century, the re-organization of scriptural readings is well within the normal authority of the Church. You and Father Fox make a reasonable and clearly admirable case for the 3-year lectionary.

    A few observations, though, from the other side of the debate:

    1) I’m not sure that attention span is really what we mean when we talk about why we prefer the one year cycle. I think that after having to learn the seemingly innumerable options that are the hallmark of the Novus Ordo (as well as having a lot of illicit “options” foisted on us over the years, but that’s not really the point), stability of the Sacred Liturgy has become much more important than prior to the changes, largely because instability has been the norm. There is, from my spot in the pew, a “the TLM is my home” response occurs when I can reflect on how wonderful it is that I remember last year’s Seventh Sunday After Pentecost while I’m hearing this year’s Seventh Sunday After Pentecost.

    2) We look at what Father Fox wonderfully called the “sauce” that may need a bit more cooking. While there is a broader set of Scriptural readings in the OF, it sure seems as if many of the readings in the current cycle were “cherry picked” rather than a coherent whole, with some notable exceptions. As the cycle of readings organically develops, I would hope that a couple of principles come into play. First, don’t discard the wisdom of the 1500 years before the changes. Second, don’t let the zeitgeist (in the 60s and 70s, the conscious elimination of readings and parts of readings that pertained to sin) determine the methodology for including readings. Third, there are some things that need to be said more often than once every three years.

    3) The readings for daily Mass (the 2 year cycle) have some very good instincts, especially in the Old Testament selections. They jump around, though, and I really wish there would be a bit more development and context in where they go (this summer, Jeremiah and Ezekiel seem to be unconnected).

    4) One more example of the wisdom of the TLM readings–from a simply personal point of view, St Paul’s exhortations on the moral life that are the Epistles for the Sundays After Pentecost–have been exceptionally helpful in my life. I have not found the same in the Ordinary Time Epistles in the OF, which seem to me to be focused on the theology of grace (not a bad theme in and of itself).

    Sorry to be so verbose, but I’ve really enjoyed this discussion.

    In Christ,

  81. Jack Orlando says:

    And I thank you, Nathan, for your own insightful post.

  82. Thank you, Jack and Nathan, for these two excellent and thoughtful final (?) posts in this enjoyable thread.

  83. drforjc says:

    RE the 3 year cycle:

    It makes me sad that the former cycle was at least kept intact as one of the 3 years, especially when I recall Fortescue indicating that some of his sources believed that Pope Gregory’s lectors were chanting the same lessons in the 6th century. He says in any case they are certainly very old. That is just too long of a time to just be tossed in the garbage bin.

  84. drforjc says:

    I meant to say “not kept intact”

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