More reasons for the promotion of Summorum Pontificum

The Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome received a new Prefect last November, His Eminence Robert Card. Sarah.  He should be a good, solid Prefect.  At the same time, however, there was a bit of a purge of, say, the old guard in the Congregation.  Now Card. Sarah must carry out his mandate with fewer helpers who appreciate what Pope Benedict was trying to accomplish.  I would say that the opposite is true: there are now more who are contrary.

At the same time, we watch a restructuring of the Roman Curia.  The idea behind the restructuring, as far as I can tell, is to weaken the Curia globally and leave more tasks to regional conferences of bishops.  The number of cardinals and archbishops in the Curia will drop as departments are consolidated, thus concentrating influence and activity.

I therefore read with interest an article at Pinoy Catholic in the Philippines, which informs us that in the Archdiocese of Cebu the following are no longer allowed:

– The Benedictine Altar Arrangement with the crucifix facing the people, not the priest, and with 6 candles for priests, and 7 candles for bishops.
– New Churches must not have their Tabernacles anywhere near the Sanctuary, but only at the side.
– Tabernacle veil

So much for “vertical” worship with emphasis on the transcendent or on the Lord.  This is a clear repudiation, in harsh terms, of what Benedict XVI’s vision in favor of the ghost of Anscar Chupungco.

Will the Congregation get involved with this decision in Cebu?  I suspect not.  I hope I am wrong.

We need to rethink versus populum celebration of Holy Mass and adopt instead ad orientem worship.  Joseph Ratzinger got it right in his The Spirit of the Liturgy.  I’ll take Benedict XVI’s vision every day and as many times as it takes on Sunday.

As Klaus Gamber stated, and Ratzinger repeated, the shift from ad orientem worship to versus populum was the single most damaging change made in the name of the Second Vatican Council.  Together with that came the jettisoning of Our Lord from sanctuaries, the de facto abolition of Latin along with worthy sacred music, irreverence due to Communion in the hand and the downplaying of kneeling and genuflection, etc. etc. etc.

All reasons for the promotion of Summorum Pontificum.

Just as a return to reading the Fathers can help us, collectively, correct the way we have been reading Scripture, so much under the domination of an over-played historical-critical method, so too, the Extraordinary Form can help us learn how the worship God as a Church which is not fragmented into tiny shards, and to reorient ourselves away from ourselves.

Start your local movement for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum NOW.

¡Hagan lío!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Obviously, some people are still stuck in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Perhaps nobody has ever wished them a HAPPY NEW YEAR since 1973.

  2. jfk03 says:

    The lovely thing about being a Greek (Byzantine) Catholic is that division over the Liturgy is minimal, and the Holy Table is oriented to the East, as it always has been. This allows priest and people more readily to strive for the Kingdom in their worship of God. The Holy Mysteries are where heaven meets earth and man meets his Creator. That is not to say that we of the Greek and Eastern Catholic churches don’t have our own problems.

  3. Mike says:

    I just got back from visiting family in the Boston area and can report some good news. The Church where I was baptized, received First Holy Communion, and was Confirmed in did a make-over this last year. The results are quite good. Especially good: the Tabernacle is where it should be, in the center of the sanctuary back wall, behind the altar. As w ell, above the Tabernacle is a large, traditional Crucifix.
    While this parish, I suspect, won’t be offering a TLM anytime soon, it’s great to see how “going back to the past” has given this Church a bright new beginning!

  4. Rich Leonardi says:

    The Benedictine Altar Arrangement …

    Interestingly, this arrangement is showing up in some surprising places, i.e., parishes without a reputation for liturgical fidelity, in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (I won’t name them because, sadly, there are lurkers who might try to make life difficult for the priests involved.) It does seem to have a subliminal sacralizing effect on the congregation. There could be worse things; the legacy of Joseph Bernardin still casts a long, dark shadow here.

  5. donato2 says:

    The reform of the reform is dead. Long live the TLM.

  6. Warren says:

    A subtle yet significant sign has occurred at our Cathedral. The altar crucifix now lies flat on the altar whenever the Bishop celebrates Mass. The rector, a good and liturgically solid priest, and those of us who wince at clergy parading around the nave the of church during a homily, must watch as many of the Reform-of-the-Reform corrections instituted by the current rector are slowly being eroded and replaced with goofy innovations. Local clergy, following the example of their bishop, have started to stroll into their respective congregations.

    Our bishop is a good, down-to-earth soul, but sorely oblivious to the fact that his freewheeling attitude tends to inspire dissent. His former diocese was embroiled in massive dissent. Teachers and parents at the high school in his former mission diocese openly rebelled in the media against the bishop regarding Church teaching on human sexuality. Bishops and priests seem unaware that every unwarranted departure in the Liturgy is so very often perceived as a sign and license for others to depart from any Church teaching of their choosing, especially in our diocese.

    For example, when I inquired of a priest why he omitted the entire Penitential Rite, he pointed to the then bishop’s example of changing the Liturgy. When I provided him a gentle reminder of Sacrosanctum Concilium 22, he dismissed the comment and asserted “I am the priest”, to which I should have responded, “Then act like one.” Thanks be to God, that priest is retired. His shabby example of referring to a bishop’s errant actions to justify his own, however, is alive and well in our Diocese.

  7. That archdiocese is going against the tide. While it is sad, I can’t say that the Curia has been an aggressive defender of liturgical decorum over the last 50 years. Right now, what is clear is that liturgical reform is something that has to be pushed at the lowest levels first, and traditionalists can’t be satisfied with just one Mass or just one parish. It’s time for lay organizations of the faithful to appear so that good liturgy can spread from parish to parish and ultimately diocese to diocese. Such organizations can give support to orthodox priests and help nurture orthodox vocations. As they say at the ballpark, “MAKE SOME NOISE!”

  8. TWF says:

    Thankfully the Archdiocese of Vancouver continues to be largely solid. Priests outside of Vancouver, in other more liberal Canadian dioceses, tend to whisper about the long succession of “conservative” archbishops in Vancouver. I was at holy mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and:
    -the Benedictine arrangement is still used at the altar (with the crucifix properly placed on the altar)
    -the archbishop and other priests chant (in English, but hey its still chant) many of the propers
    -the choir and pipe organ enhance the mass with beautiful traditional polyphony often in Latin
    -the bulk of the people receive Our Lord KNEELING at the altar rail (yes, in an OF mass)

    The latest parochial vicar to be added to the Cathedral staff is even whispering about introducing an EF mass. There is at least one parish in the archdiocese completely devoted to the EF (served by the FSSP) and one or two other parishes that offer consistent weekly EF masses, as well as a number of OF parishes where kneeling at the altar rail is the norm.

  9. Robbie says:

    Given what we’ve seen take place in the last 21 months and the speed with which things have moved, I can’t help but wonder if there weren’t outside forces pushing Benedict to resign. I’m usually not one to buy into conspiracy theories, but the coincidence just seems too prefect. I’m afraid things are moving quickly towards a moment of real and harmful confrontation.

  10. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Andrew, “MAKE SOME NOISE!” is fine, but Pope Francis told Catholics to go make a “mess.”

    Yes, let’s make a mess of the mess(es) in many (most?) of our dioceses. Save the Liturgy, save the world.


  11. Rob22 says:

    I think the weakening of those at the Congregation who support the EF form even while Benedict is still alive is troubling. What happens when he passes? Will SP become essentially frozen with no more allowance made for those wanting the EF?

    It seems clear the “open” vision of the liturgy a la V2 is back in favor at the highest levels of the church. I don’t attend an EF but read blogs and one fear of those in the movement is that stand-alone EF parishes will come under he chopping block at some point in the future.

    It seems the EF is in an increasingly precarious position and I wonder if a more formal structure should have been established. One not at the whim of local bishops and the Commission whose membership can be changed to defacto block most EF requests in the future.

  12. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    As bad as the abandonment of ad orientem has been for the Mass, I think that one other change in practice at least ties it as a Destroyer of Sacramental Life: the invention of the “Reconciliation Room.” Remember, for many years, in many places, the faithful did not have even the OPTION of a screen.

    BTW: Why, why, WHY is it assumed, by every priest in the world except me, that people who wish to use the screen can (and must) kneel? In every parish where I’ve been pastor, I have, when it was physically possible, put a chair in position so that those who wish to use the screen can sit. This first occurred to me, shortly after ordination, when elderly people who could not kneel attempted to use the screen while standing.

    “Reconciliation Rooms” and face-to-face confession should be abolished, and people should have the option of sitting or kneeling while confessing in anonymity.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    “The reform of the reform is dead. Long live the TLM.”

    That is your opinion, with which I respectfully disagree. The Church needs the “reform of the reform”. Do those who only support the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite really believe that if the Ordinary Form was abolished tomorrow, we would be in some sort of paradise? Parish churches would empty and the average priest would be totally lost. We need to be realistic and not delusional. A “reform of the reform” is the only way forward.

  14. Traductora says:

    The people who hated the old rite are back in the saddle again, but the difference is that the people who love it have had the time of Summorum Pontificum and many people are not going to take this quietly. In terms of the improvements to the NO, such as the Benedictine arrangement, I suspect that a lot of those will be a thing of the past. The now geriatric crowd that has dominated church music and liturgy for decades and was on its way out has been put back into power, and most bishops, even newer ones, are now afraid to oppose them. But I think the Old Rite is going to survive, although with difficulty.

    The Pope is empowering strange people. BTW, with “hagan lio” (sorry, no accents) he meant “create a commotion,” and I’m sure he meant it as “attract attention,” presumably to Christianity, although he seems to prefer to attract it to Protestants. I think he’s extremely naïve and never thinks about the consequences of his words or actions.

    He’s influenced by every loony in the world. He’s apparently receiving input from Leonardo Boff on his projected ecological encyclical, which is not a good sign.

    And he has enraged the Spanish by saying that he is going to do a drop-in for the 500th anniversary of the birth of Sta Teresa de Avila. He’s not making an official visit, he’s stopping by on a day trip and flying out again later that day like any other Italian NGO head.

  15. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:


    The problem with the Reform of the Reform is roughly the same as reform of islamicists. They don’t see anything needing reform, except in getting more “pure” forms of what they’re already doing.

  16. Lin says:

    I wonder if Pope Benedict XVI regrets his decision to step down.

  17. Emilio says:

    I am with Geoffrey above. I think I speak for some, if not for many, in saying that for many of us the Ordinary Form remains the normal, “ordinary” way that we experience the Sacred Liturgy of our Rite. It seems that Summorum Pontificum is not only manipulated by the left, but also by the far-right on these shores (USA) who hoped that it would mean the death of the Novus Ordo, and the end of us who are veterans to restoring elements of the sacred back to the Novus Ordo, in my case since the mid-90s, when the prospect of a Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum were pipe dreams. I fully support the Extraordinary Form and happily attend one on occasion, but I hardly consider myself less of a Catholic for mainly attending my parish’s Novus Ordo, celebrated mostly in Latin, ad orientem and kneeling at the rail for Communion. So for those of you who insist on hating us “neocons” and seeing enemies in us (I was banned from Rorate Caeli for a reason), you may very well have to see us as friends and allies again, because the enemies of ANY liturgical tradition seem to be back again and are emboldened, and would only rejoice to see us on the other side divided by factions. Get OVER yourselves and wake up.

  18. Mike says:

    I think the “reform of the reform” at the parish level, ideally, would include a weekly TLM, either a low Mass or a High Mass. At a parish near me, this is the norm, and the NO Masses are pulled towards the greater solemnity by the TLM’s influence.

    Additionally, “neo-cons” and “trads” need to stop forming circular shooting squads. That would help, at least in the blogosphere.

  19. Emilio says:

    @Warren: unfortunately your Bishop also sounds a lot like our Pope…a good-natured, down-to-earth soul largely largely oblivious and unconcerned with matters liturgical, with the same unintended consequences for the Universal Church, as in your Diocese.

  20. donato2 says:

    The reform of the reform is not a solution because it depends on the whim of the local bishop or priest. In this regard it actually reinforces what is a fundamental problem with new Mass: the discretion that local bishops and priests believe themselves to have to change, for better or worse, the way the new Mass is celebrated. Because this discretion has become so connected with the new Mass, the reform of the reform ends up being, at best, just one more flavor in which the new Mass might be celebrated. It will never be adopted by the scads of liberal priests who are out there.

    The new Mass has one salutary function in my mind: it acts as a sponge that sops up all the malign influences that would attacked the TLM if the new Mass did not exist. The new Mass enabled the TLM to survive these influences in pristine form.

  21. Athelstan says:


    …the legacy of Joseph Bernardin still casts a long, dark shadow here.

    Not as long as it is now in Chicago. Thank your lucky stars.

    Hopefully there’s enough left in the rubble in Cincy to rebuild something with. The Oratory is a great place to start.

  22. magistercaesar says:

    I was born in the Philippines and became a naturalized US citizen in 8th grade. I love being proud of the fact I am Filipino and am a proud Catholic. Learning about the Extraordinary Form made me love my faith even more, but being exposed to the actual liturgical abuses that go on in the Philippines, the 3rd most populous Catholic population in the world, saddens me.

  23. Athelstan says:

    Fr. Z,

    The idea behind the restructuring, as far as I can tell, is to weaken the Curia globally and leave more tasks to regional conferences of bishops.

    Which, while it is supported by a number of agendas, has long been the desire of progressives, who have long presumed (with reason) that the conferences will generally be more progressive than the Curia.

    Yet it does raise the question, especially in light of all the emphasis on the authority of bishops in Lumen Gentium, why it’s really any less of an autocratic imposition for a bishop to take orders from a largely lay bureaucracy in, say, Washington, London, Paris or Manila than it is a Curial bureaucracy in Rome?

  24. Athelstan says:


    The reform of the reform is not a solution because it depends on the whim of the local bishop or priest.

    Let us call this the “Our Saviour Effect.” Fr. Rutler made that storied parish a shining beacon for Reform of the Reform. Within mere months of his departure, however, the new pastor had done away with virtually all of his legacy – the music, the EF Masses, the Benedictine arrangement, the altar cards, even some of the sanctuary art. Before long, of course, many of the supporters of the RotR reforms simply left.

    I know of other places where this has happened less dramatically, and I know some layfolks who reluctantly responded by departing for TLM or Eastern Rite parishes rather than be whiplashed any longer. I don’t say this to encourage despair, but…this is the vulnerability of Reform of the Reform as it exists now, and I don’t know any answer to it. Even the best legal protections cannot completely protect you from liberal personnel determined to do liberal things.

    The new Mass enabled the TLM to survive these influences in pristine form.

    You’d have to go back to Pius X – or, at the latest, 1939 – to get “pristine.” But 1962, damaged as it is by the Pian and Johannine reforms, is still recognizably the ancient Roman Rite, and your larger point is a good one.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    Malta is dying because of the suppression of the Summorum Pontificum

    This morning after Latin NO, which is not even weekly, I stopped an English speaking man and asked him if there were any members of the Pro-Tridentine Group at this Mass. I wanted to meet them.

    The man was extrememly rude, told me he knew who they were and they, literally, turned his back on me and walked away.

    Shockingly rude behavior, but an indication even among the English speaking laity of the non-support of the Tridentine Mass.

    Catholic Malta is dying, I have been here almost three months and not one TLM has been celebrated. People wonder why the Faith is slipping away……duh.

  26. Rich Leonardi says:


    But for one saving grace, his focus on priestly vocations, the ordinary in Cincinnati is virtually indistinguishable from the new ordinary in Chicago. They are both company men lucky enough to have risen when the company was in slightly better health than under Cardinal Bernardin.

  27. MGL says:

    My family attends the cathedral parish mentioned by Warren, and we have watched with dismay, verging on despair, as our new bishop tramples on our rector’s painstakingly implemented (though incomplete) reform-of the-reform initiatives. The new bishop does not celebrate Mass very often at the Cathedral, but on each occasion, he wanders through the nave for the entire homily, occasionally soliciting audience participation while delivering what is clearly an extemporaneous, folksy “reflection” on whatever happens to be on his mind that day. After several years of liturgical, doctrinal, and financial stabilization under our previous bishop, I fear we are heading back to the old ways of our notorious bishop emeritus, a Vatican II Council Father who supervised the wreckovation of most of the churches in our diocese and fostered a mentality in which dissent and liturgical abuse were the norm.

    And this is the key point that others have made above: the reform of the reform can only be maintained by a constant, active effort of will on the part of those responsible. No matter how reverent your parish Mass may be, it’s all liable to change the minute your current priest leaves or a new bishop (or a new pope) turns up. The New Mass exerts a steady, unrelenting anthropocentric pull on its ministers that can only be resisted by unceasing, wearying vigilance.

    Perhaps this seemingly inevitable entropic tendency could be arrested by a wholesale top-down imposition of new liturgical rules to drastically reduce the scope for discretion and improvisation in the New Mass, but that’s vanishingly unlikely to happen in the current circumstances, and all the signs indicate that we’re headed in the opposite direction.

    My family has attended the New Mass almost exclusively since we were received into the Church several years ago, though the great majority we have attended outside our parish have been just awful. We are active in various ways in our parish and our teenage sons are now veteran altar servers. Several months ago, I had resolved that, in the words of the blogger St. Corbinian’s Bear, we would “nail our feet to the floor in front of our favorite pew and die there”.

    But under this pope, and this bishop, I find my resolve wavering. I have a dreadful intuition that Summorum Pontificum’s days are numbered one way or another, and if so, the reform of the reform is likely to lose whatever feeble momentum it has remaining. Should the worst come to pass, it might become time to make a stand for traditional liturgy. We have one Latin Mass in town and one Anglican Use parish, and even if the Latin Mass is shut down, it seems unlikely that TPTB would bother messing with the Ordinariate.

    Pray for the best, but prepare for the worst.

  28. iPadre says:

    How could anyone want to weaken the little reverence there is in the Church of 2015?

    I wonder if they will try to suppress ad orientem, which is not by way of permission, but by strictly following the rubrics.

    It all demands more prayer and penance as requested by Our Lady. Totus tuus, ego sum Maria! We must all become like the Cure of Ars to save the Church.

  29. iteadthomam says:

    I’m glad you said a return to the Fathers corrects the modern historical critical method. I am putting together a patristic study bible because of this.

  30. NoTambourines says:

    Moving the tabernacle away from the sanctuary: Are they taking having the congregation “find Jesus” a little too literally?

  31. Salvelinus says:

    The Novus ordo, in is design, is built to allow abuse.
    Too many options, and to those that don’t know what they would do if it were only the TLM, keep in mind that the Catholic world did just fine, arguably better, without these ridiculous factions and suborders of Catholics (ie TLMers, Latin Novus ordo, Rite of EWTNers, liberal crazies with puppets, unhappy sedevacantist flirters, SSPX-mass-at-the-airport attendees, Mexican Mariachi mass attendees, hands in the air drums and guitars on the altar mass)
    The list can continue.

    Long story short, the “ordinary form ” is anything but ordinary, and one never knitted what they will get.

    As one that only attends the TLM, i know the mass, wherever in the world i attend. That is catholic (as in UNIVERSAL)… The is nothing uniting in the ordinary form.. Optional this that and the other thing…

    All one needs to do is realize that the crazy liberal modernist “performance” at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference (REC) is still going on, with approval from the archbishop, presence of the disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahony, and yes, per “ordinary form ” standard, these masses are totally valid… Just forty years ago, every one of those masses would be deemed invalid at best, and likely thoroughly condemned as of the devil (see the cauldrins, liturgical dancing preisteses, pagan worship, herb burning, etc etc).

    I have to agree that the Reform of the Reform is done, since the mass, as in the GIRM now, is built to divide the church.

    We did fine for 1,966 years as Catholics without the mass in the vernacular.. Why does one need to “see and hear” the priest and everything he does? It’s catechesis, and lack of understanding of these priest giving the sacrafice. The priest celebrates the mass, he doesn’t “preside” over it. We, as lay people assist at the mass, we don’t celebrate. “the priesthood of the laity” also hurts us, and is the reason for the false “active participation” were so many need to “do something” (lector, eucharistic minister, liturgy director… Steel drum player).. It’s madness. What was the reason for the destruction of the mass again?

    Pure Benedict, and Summorum Pontificum will one day be vindicated and i believe the new “ordinary form” will go down as one of the worst things the men of the church ever did to divide, splinter, segregate, and harden the body of Christ.

  32. Salvelinus says:

    I noticed a username above that most places would have no idea on the genesis.

    Just to add to my typo-ridden post above (apologies, trying on a smartphone), the fact that, “NoTambourines” is a username (bravo on getting a hearty LOL) it’s a problem. The holy sacrifice of the mass is no place for tambourines!

    These factions in the church, now getting deeper and deeper, truly came about from the change in the way we worship. Force one to go to a Los Angeles REC-conference every Sunday, and sooner or later you will likely have an Obama devotee / Illegal immigration supporter, who is “prolife unless cases of rape or incest, but I wouldn’t want to impose my religious views on a woman’s right to choose”… Ala, virtually every “Catholic” democrat politician (who per some bishops are totally free to receive communion, even though they aren’t in communion. Ahem.. Chicago again.. Ahem…

    As Father writes, and I’ve come to heartedly agree, the way we worship is the way we believe, and the way we live –
    Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi

  33. Salvelinus says:

    Dear MGL, if I may, I’d like to repost some gold you wrote above. Anything taking the second law of thermodynamics and applying it to liturgy cannot be denied…

    “The New Mass exerts a steady, unrelenting anthropocentric pull on its ministers that can only be resisted by unceasing, wearying vigilance.

    Perhaps this seemingly inevitable entropic tendency could be arrested by a wholesale top-down imposition of new liturgical rules to drastically reduce the scope for discretion and improvisation in the New Mass, but that’s vanishingly unlikely to happen in the current circumstances, and all the signs indicate that we’re headed in the opposite direction.

  34. JBS says:

    It’s difficult to identify the will of God in all this. Does He favor the “reform of the reform”, the EF rites, or the status quo? We can’t look to the bishop of Rome to help us discern the will of God for the Roman liturgical tradition, because the pope emeritus and the new pope offer contradictory views. So, what is the will of God here?

  35. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Never underestimate the role of honest ignorance. If you don’t know what the tradition is or why, and you don’t really know why Catholics are supposed to do X, “streamlining” or “going back to normal instead of doing this weird old-fashioned thing” can seem like the obvious thing to do.

    For example, I’m sure that in many parishes that were celebrating Epiphany today, the psalm was changed to a seasonal psalm. In other parishes, I bet the psalm verse about the kings bringing tribute and homage was cut out, because the names were hard.

    Now, of course, if we gave music ministers (and every other Catholic) a thorough grounding in Scripture, this would be unthinkable. The whole psalm is prophesying about the Messiah’s life and the Kingdom; and that particular psalm verse is prophesying about the Magi. It’s something we should love and know, and delight in singing.

    But instead of the Psalms being the first Bible book that people learn by heart, as it has usually been over the last 2000 years of Christianity (and in Judaism before that), a lot of Catholics never learn anything about the Psalms, these days. Many people apparently think the Psalms are just an interchangeable weekly “blah, blah, blah, chorus, blah;” and therefore, a lot of music ministers think the same, and honestly don’t think that the content of the Psalm matters, just so long as there is something filling the space. Father can’t be sure the psalm will be right, so he’s never going to preach on the meaning of the Psalm reading or how it relates to the other readings. There’s a cycle of ignorance.

  36. tioedong says:

    the problem with the tabernacle on the main altar is that the priest’s back is to it during mass.
    Our church has the tabernacle on the side altar, which has the side pews for people to pray there and for daily mass when the church is empty. You can see the tabernacle from the main church. Of course, during the day, the church is locked and only the small 24 hour adoration chapel is open.
    Crime is a problem here.
    The real problem is what I saw in America: No tabernacle in the main church, only in a back room (that was used for other things.)
    And most churches here in the Philippines have a huge crucifix on the back wall behind the priest, although ours is covered up when there is a feastday (e.g. the nativity scene like right now)

  37. MGL says:


    Thanks for the compliment. I likewise enjoyed your partial listing of the “ridiculous factions and suborders of Catholics” resulting from the liturgical chaos of the past 50-odd years.

    The thermodynamics analogy appeals to me as an engineer: just as our professional livelihoods depend on staving off the inexorable tendency of the physical world to fall into decay and disorder, a good priest or bishop can go to great lengths to herd all the Novus Ordo liturgical cats, and thereby construct, by sheer force of will, a reverently celebrated New Mass. But there’s no permanence to it, and as soon as the priest relaxes his grip for whatever reason, entropy takes over–and before you know it you’re singing A Place at the Table while the puppets process up the aisle. (I kid, but you know what I mean.)

  38. Athelstan says:

    Hello Rich,

    But for one saving grace, his focus on priestly vocations, the ordinary in Cincinnati is virtually indistinguishable from the new ordinary in Chicago.

    In short: a member of the John Paul II episcopal school of “Slightly Better Than.”

    I don’t mean to overstate the ordinary’s virtues, but I think Cupich has a more spectacular record of proactive Bernardin-itis – specifically of the Robert Lynch variety (no surprise that they are apparently good friends) – than yours. If this sounds like danging with faint praise, it is. I know what you had to go through out there.

    What they do seem to share in common is a lack of courage to engage in any conflict at all with the progressive elites that have long run the Church in their neck of the woods, or the wider secular elite culture that would support them. Until recently there’s rarely been any cost at all to engage in conflict with the more tradition-minded in their flocks (witness his shutdown of the TLM community in Rapid City). These are not men made for Tyburn; and it is small consolation that hardly any bishops in Tyburn’s day were, either. Mitred heads notwithstanding, at least English Catholicism died courageously. And they at least could count on Rome’s moral support.

  39. Grumpy Beggar says:

    The wording of the document is wanting as far as clarity is concerned , but for the sake of precision and for the record: the copy of the document at Pinoy Catholic did not say , New Churches should not have their tabernacle anywhere near the sanctuary. . . (although it might as well have) but rather –

    “. . . directed that in building new churches the place of the tabernacle should not be anywhere at the sanctuary but at the side of the church near the sanctuary or at a separate chapel.”

    That being said, words are cheap in this particular instance – so ambiguously presented in the circular letter they could almost be interpreted any way one desired. Some of the wording doesn’t make sense ; it isn’t coherent/consistent with any one train of thought. “At the side of the church” , could well preclude being “near the sanctuary” , dependent on the design: The two could become mutually exclusive. And placing a tabernacle off to the side, can easily translate into placing it in a location where it is not as clearly visible to the faithful when they enter the church (don’t you just hate being frozen in suspended animation upon entering those churches where you’re forever searching trying to locate the [ inconspicuous] tabernacle before genuflecting?)

    I’ve never been too convinced personally by the argument that the removal of a tabernacle from the high altar is necessary for the reason that the celebrant will have his back to it when he celebrates the OF Mass. The truth is, in those circumstances the priest is still not facing the tabernacle when it is placed over to the side either – the argument becomes a physical question of mere degrees: Instead of the priest being 180 degrees away from facing the tabernacle when he celebrates , with the tabernacle on the side, he is only 90 degrees away, or maybe 110 degrees away. Where we really should focus on trying not to turn our back on our Blessed Lord, is after we receive Him in Holy Communion.

    Pope Benedict XVI said that placement of the tabernacle on the high altar where they already exist is appropriate – cautioning however, to be careful not to place the celebrant’s chair in front of it. I agree with iPadre’s post – our first and main response to whatever we see wrong in the Church, has to be personal holiness. It’s fine to identify the problem . . .even moan about it a little, but incessant moaning doesn’t really bear any positive fruit – prayer, fasting, renouncements do.

    That document’s wording seems so strange. It isn’t really consistent with any one idea. Could it be that the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission on Worship just dreamt something up out of thin air concerning tabernacle placement in newly built churches ? Or is it more likely they may have based that recommendation on something else – as poor as their interpretation of that something else might be ? An excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis follows below (I wonder if they began here , before they so badly misconstrued ):

    “69. In considering the importance of eucharistic reservation and adoration, and reverence for the sacrament of Christ’s sacrifice, the Synod of Bishops also discussed the question of the proper placement of the tabernacle in our churches. (196) The correct positioning of the tabernacle contributes to the recognition of Christ’s real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, the place where the eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church. It is therefore necessary to take into account the building’s architecture: in churches which do not have a Blessed Sacrament chapel, and where the high altar with its tabernacle is still in place, it is appropriate to continue to use this structure for the reservation and adoration of the Eucharist, taking care not to place the celebrant’s chair in front of it. In new churches, it is good to position the Blessed Sacrament chapel close to the sanctuary; where this is not possible, it is preferable to locate the tabernacle in the sanctuary, in a sufficiently elevated place, at the centre of the apse area, or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous. Attention to these considerations will lend dignity to the tabernacle, which must always be cared for, also from an artistic standpoint. Obviously it is necessary to follow the provisions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in this regard. (197) In any event, final judgment on these matters belongs to the Diocesan Bishop.”

    Do you think whoever wrote the document for the Commission, could have confused a new church’s Blessed Sacrament chapel placement with a new church’s tabernacle placement ? . . . It doesn’t appear so because mention of a “separate chapel” is also included in that same statement. So we are left to conclude that the recommendation is poorly worded and way out of line, with no viable explanation. Unfortunately in this case, “the final judgement on these matters belongs to the diocesan bishop” . I guess we could still hope and pray that the archbishop will receive the wisdom to realize what an unsound recommendation is currently circulating in his diocese : That particular recommendation doesn’t appear to support the premise of the letter : that it will (purportedly) help ministers “understand ever more fully what it is they are doing when they perform sacred rites” ; that religious and clerics “may understand the sacred rites and be able to take part in them wholeheartedly”. . .

    . . . Oh, and just for added effect to the ouch factor . . . “In addition they must learn how to obey the liturgical laws . . . ”

    . . . *head – hands*

  40. The Masked Chicken says:

    MGL wrote:

    “Perhaps this seemingly inevitable entropic tendency could be arrested by a wholesale top-down imposition of new liturgical rules to drastically reduce the scope for discretion and improvisation in the New Mass, but that’s vanishingly unlikely to happen in the current circumstances, and all the signs indicate that we’re headed in the opposite direction.”

    This thermodynamic analogy has been known for a few years. It is called, “social entropy,” and as per the Wikipedia article, is,

    “Social entropy is a macrosociological systems theory. It is a measure of the natural decay within a social system. It can refer to the decomposition of social structure or of the disappearance of social distinctions. Much of the energy consumed by a social organization is spent to maintain its structure, counteracting social entropy, e.g., through legal institutions, education and even the promotion of television viewing. Anomie is the maximum state of social entropy.[disputed ] Social entropy implies the tendency of social networks and society in general to break down over time, moving from cooperation and advancement towards conflict and chaos.”

    Unfortunately, for those of a science or engineering background who have studied thermodynamics, social entropy, S, may not be based on equilibrium or reversible thermodynamics, but, rather non-equilibrium or far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics, which means that small changes can have non-proprortional effects. This is equivalent to saying that society is an open system. Alas, the definitions put forth for social entropy seem ad hoc. Bailey has the most well-known approach:

    but unlike classical thermodynamics or statistical thermodynamics, it is hard to define the entropy in terms of a direct measure such as work, heat, or number of states of the system that can be reached. I suppose one could define social entropy, loosely, using something like Shannon entropy, where the states of the system are the number of different points of view among members in a society or the different number of states on a Turing machine, where each state corresponds to a different societal viewpoint. Given that, however, a perfect liberal society, where everyone holds the exact same liberal viewpoint is equal in its measure of entropy as a society where everyone holds exactly the same conservative point of view. In fact, entropy increases (things get more random) where there is a plurality of opinions. In a hierarchical society, there are strict bounds on the entropy between zero, where there is absolutely no dissension among the hierarchy at any level and Smax, where no on holds the opinion of the hierarchy, but everyone holds their own different opinion.

    Obviously, according to Canon 212 no. 3, the Church is meant to operate above minimum entropy, since people can, legitimately, disagree with the non-infallible pronouncements of the hierarchy. Actually, that is not quite true. Due to infallibility, there is a stratification in the system with a bottom stable defined region of zero entropy (the infallible pronouncements which no one, reasonably, dissents from) and a region above that where entropy changes depending upon situations. One might think of a wide river, where the pebbles at the bottom are undisturbed, but the looser rock in the stream comes together, separates, and mixes.

    Given all of this, it is likely that we have a situation in the church where there are two stable minima, one liberal and one conservative, with a hump in the middle. Round out the letter W at the sharp points into curves and one can see this. Unfortunately, if there is a variational principle in effect that attempts to minimize or maximize some part of these two potentials or potential regions, then the transitions can be, in a mathematical sense, catastrophic – a sudden, radical change from one equilibrium state to another (technically, a Cusp Catastrophe). This is exactly what one saw on Blue Thursday at the Extraordinary Synod, when there was a sudden, dramatic shift from the liberal to the conservative.

    What we are seeing, now, is the application of Pope Francis’s Principle of Maximum Mercy or some such. This could lead to sudden dramatic changes that cannot be predicted by the current environment. What it will probably not do is lead to an increase in societal entropy within the Church, as anything that polarizes decreases entropy. The thing that is increasing entropy, the randomness of belief among members of the Church, is the sneaking in, by the back door, of the Protestant notion of Private Interpretation. As long as pew-sitters feel that they may hold their own private views on doctrinal issues, such as contraception, entropy will increase. The shifting between liberal and conservative views of the Mass will slightly increase entropy because of the increasing choices within the NO Mass, but decrease entropy because there are only two types of Mass. If there were 50 different versions of the EF and NO Masses (and slight variations within the Mass do not count, as long as they follow some well-established written rule) or 50 ways to confect the Eucharist, then things would be very bad. As long as there are clearly definable poles of behavior, even if there is shifting between them, the entropy of the system will not increase. It is apathy or indifferentism that dramatically increases entropy.

    As a side note: this is happening in every sphere of society, today – the tendency to let any and every life choice be recognized. I contend that liberals know this and thrive on it, themselves acting as centers of organization where the decrease in entropy around their ideas is disproportionate and they can derive maximum work, money, etc.

    I guess I just spent an hour talking to myself, but this is not the first time I have mentioned social entropy, here. I do not agree with the idea, philosophically, as applied to man because it denies free will (one of the postulates of statistical thermodynamics, essentially, make gas particles random in their movements, whereas people can do what they please). Still, it may be useful in defining tendencies among non-thinking individuals (which all of us are, at least some of the time).

    The Chicken

  41. Priam1184 says:

    Totally agree with Salvelinus, except for the minor technicality that Latin actually was the vernacular when it first started being used in the Mass, as was Greek before it. But that aside he is totally right: the factionalism has to stop.

  42. For what it’s worth, I visited a brand-new church yesterday. While it is largely modern (and plain large), one thing that is readily apparent is that the tabernacle is dead center of the sanctuary in an old-fashioned reredos (perhaps preserved from one of the three churches it replaced, or some other closed church). As I said earlier, the tide is moving in the right direction, and it isn’t going to be stopped very easily. Work also began this week in our cathedral to move the tabernacle from a side chapel back to the center of the sanctuary.

  43. Filipino Catholic says:

    There is at least one church in this archdiocese, right inside the Archbishop’s residential compound but open to the public, that not only has the tabernacle directly behind the altar (which itself is done in a very traditional manner), but also has the six candles on the altar. They also have communion rails which are actually being used. Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve was very solemn and reverent for an OF Mass. The words of Consecration were chanted in Latin, as was the Kyrie. Even when the congregation applauded during the post-Communion announcements, the priest and the acolytes did not clap.

    If only there were more who would strive to restore our patrimony. Alas Philippine Catholics are occasionally traditiophobic, associating the EF with the tyranny of colonialist Spain.

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