Concerning some bad ideas about how to “enrich” the traditional, Extraordinary Form


Another reaction at NLM.


Be sure to read a response posted at CWR by a priest who wrote his thesis on Universae Ecclesiae.  HERE


___ Originally Published on: Feb 8, 2017 ___

old and new massWhen I was around the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“, in its early days, I had the opportunity fairly frequently to chat with the Prefect of the CDF (our offices were in the same building and our Cardinal and that Cardinal were friends).  Card. Ratzinger had ideas about the organic development of liturgical worship which touched on the interplay of the older form of the Roman Rite and the Novus Ordo.  Even then he wrote and spoke, though not always in the more current phrase, of a “mutual enrichment” of the rites.   Ratzinger held – correctly – that there was a rupture in our worship through the imposition on the Church of an artificially cobbled-up “new order” of Mass.  That rupture must be healed.  That will take time.  He thought it would be beneficial to have wide-spread (with the Novus Ordo) celebrations of Holy Mass using also the pre-Conciliar form.  The contact of the two rites would jump-start the slow, organic development of worship which had been so harmfully interrupted.

Back in the day, I think that Ratzinger believed that logical priority in the mutual enrichment should be with the Novus Ordo.  However, as time passed I had the impression that he shifted to the view that logical priority should be given to the older, traditional form.  That’s my impression from our conversations.

In Summorum Pontificum he was able to issue legislation for the universal Church that would, inter alia, effect that contact and that mutual enrichment.  Benedict’s Motu Proprio effected a juridical solution.  It did not solve or resolve the other questions, for example, is the Novus Ordo really in continuity with the traditional Roman Rite?  That is a matter for historians and theologians and liturgists.  Summorum Pontificum made an elegant juridical determination: For juridical purposes the two rites are the same and, hence, if a priest has faculties to say Mass, he can use either Missal.  Other questions remain.

The above serves to set up the following.

Fr. John Hunwicke has written at his blog Mutual Enrichment (sound familiar?) his brief comments on a proposal made by Fr. Peter Stravinskas at Catholic World Report about how the Novus Ordo, the Ordinary Form, should change the traditional, Extraordinary Form.   At the time it came out, I simply shook my head and moved on.  I disagreed with virtually everything he wrote and I wasn’t going to waste my time on it.

Fr. Hunwicke, on the other hand, did offer some reactions.  Here are a few of his points:

Enriching the EF
I am afraid that there is an immensely silly article in the CWR by a Fr Peter Stravinskas. He asks how the Ordinary Form could enrich the Extraordinary Form. [NB: no “mutual” involved.  It’s one way.]

The problem with his piece is that he goes on and on … and on … and on … having yet more bright ideas. One thing leads to another. You start off considering his ideas … but by the time he has finished with you he is proposing a completely new rite.

More to the point, and most disturbingly, he is apparently unaware of a large amount of work, academically, which has been done in the last twenty or so years. The 1960s changes were based on shabby and shallow scholarship. The last thing we want to do to the EF now is to make precisely the same blunder!

“The riches of prayers in the OF should be brought into the EF.” BUT it has been demonstrated that even where OF prayers have a pedigree in the old Sacramentaries, their selection and their conceptual bowdlerisation in the OF has made them very suspect.
“The OF Lectionaries should be brought into the EF.” BUT it has been demonstrated that, although the OF gives more Bible, it goes easy on certain Biblical themes, and so in fact it is something of an impoverishment; a censorship of Holy Scripture.
“The OF Calendar should be brought into the EF … for example, by shifting Christ the King to November.” BUT the (Evangelical Anglican) Bishop NT Wright has demonstrated what a very flawed move that was.


Fr Stravinskas’s proposed massive revision of the EF would provide a sort of intermediate use between the EF and the OF. His desires would much more easily be achieved by authorising certain optional changes in the OF[In other words, give logical priority to the older, traditional form.  Duh.  Right?]  for example, the silent Canon, disuse of the Acclamations after the Consecration, the restoration of the historical Roman Words of Consecration, and the authorisation of the old Offertory Prayers of the celebrant. These would all be a good thing, and could be done very simply by a decree which need hardly occupy more than one sheet of paper.

I’m with Ratzinger and Hunwicke in this.  Also, Fr. H mentions some things that can be done with the Extraordinary Form (e.g., introduce some more recently canonized saints to the calendar – today, for example, is the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, a marvelous saint who could be included in the older form’s calendar).  The changes Hunwicke would admit are discrete and would in no way affect the integrity of the Rite.

We need a period of long stability of the use of the older Rite, side by side, with the newer.  Stability.

There is nothing to be afraid of, by the way.  Let the two forms be offered side-by-side on an even field of play.  Let market forces work.  If, as some think, the Novus Ordo is so very superior to the traditional form, then people will choose to go to the Novus Ordo.  Right?  But let the playing field be even.  If the Extraordinary Form is relegated to 7 AM or 2 PM every time a 5th Sunday in a month occurs… that’s not a level playing field.  However, libs are terrified of the older, traditional form.  And because libs view the world and the Church through the lens of the zero sum game, they use brutal power to suppress whatever  (whomever!) competes with their progressivist notions.

Again, on the note of stability, some people inadvertently – alas! – allow Novus Ordo tinkeritis to take root in them.  Tinkeritis seems to be part and parcel of the Ordinary Form: don’t just let the rite be!  Provide option after option.  The effect is that the rite is ever fluid, always malleable, conformable to our desire and imagination.  Over decades the results have been disastrous for Catholic identity.

We need more and more celebrations of the older, traditional Roman Rite.  We need a period of stability.  It takes longer to build than it takes to demolish.

Brick by brick on a stable foundation.

The moderation queue is ON.


At NLM Peter Kwasniewski systematically demolishes the 14 Theses which Fr. Stravinskas nailed to CWR.


At CWR there is another response to Fr. Stravinskas’ ideas. HERE Fr. Albert P. Marcello, III gets to the core:

It would seem that if this entire article were to be put into practice, then the EF would not merely be “enriched by” the OF, but with a few minor exceptions, it would in fact become the OF.

Rem acu.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Riddley says:

    Timkeritis is definitely to be avoided. I think one of the hidden blessings of the post-Conciliar period has been that because of its near-suppression, the TLM has been protected from the dumbing-down that’s affected the Novus Ordo so badly. That means we have something pure and unspoilt to fall back on.

    It may seem a little perverse, but at the same time as pressing for more widespread celebration of the TLM the traditional movement also needs to be defending the TLM’s integrity against misguided attempts at reform.

  2. mschu528 says:

    Aside from obviously putting more recently canonized saints on the older calendar, the only notable improvement in the Novus Ordo to my mind is the addition of “et omissione” in the Confiteor. I’m not so sure I would actually want to add it to the TLM text, though.

    Re: expanding the lectionary, I think this would be a massive mistake — even just filling in the ferias. The Sunday Gospels provide important lessons for us. Holy Church chose for them to be read on their respective Sundays for a reason. I find it much better to have them drilled into our heads over and over throughout the week, rather than hear them once on Sunday and then move on to completely unrelated readings the next day. Exposure to more of Sacred Scripture would be better accomplished by widespread common chanting/recitation of the Divine Office, especially Matins (a pipe dream, perhaps). Not to mention, of course, restoring all the prophecies of the Ember Days and pre-55 Holy Week would bring a plethora of OT readings back into the Mass.

    [YES. Let us not forget the Office. Alas, today many people just say “the liturgy” when they really mean “Mass”. But “liturgy” is more inclusive than Mass. It includes the Office, with its own readings, etc.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. Would it be feasible, as an option, to use the new lectionary on weekdays when the EF reading is merely the previous Sunday’s?

    [See the above.]

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    I’ve occasionally thought that some of the OF collects and prefaces could well be incorporated in the EF Mass, along with some of the richer Latin hymnology of the Liturgia Horarum into the older breviary. However, in the current papacy’s climate of encouragement of heresy and disintegration, the ancient form should be preserved unaltered (apart perhaps for a few newer saints as suggested) as a pristine jewel continuing to shine forth the light of faith. until such time that Faith and Liturgy can be restored to the Church as a whole.

  5. Ed the Roman says:

    In the military, especially among those who have served in senior positions on large staffs, there is a concept of “the Good Idea Fairy.”

    There is also an old Zen Koan: “If you meet the Good Idea Fairy, kill the Good Idea Fairy.”


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. There’s also a response to Fr. Stravinskas at NLM, with links to past articles in NLM that deal with each of the 14 theses.

  7. mburn16 says:

    “Let market forces work”

    Perhaps. Certainly the TLM/EF has attracted a larger following of devout young Catholics…BUT I’m not sure we can say “let market forces work” unless we truly are happy to just bring back the TLM in its final form and leave it at that. “Market forces” include not only competition, but the ability to adapt to match your “competitors”.

    How much adapting is really possible under the “say the black/do the red” motto?

    [That’s why we need a period of stability and then patience. The organic (healthy) enrichment is slow. The disruptive [unhealthy] is hasty.

  8. Servant says:

    Below is my comment as posted on NLM under Professor Kwasniewski’s article mentioned above:

    True. When I think of the Novus Ordo, I don’t see a liturgical rite per se, rather I see a mass “kit” which one can dig into in order to concoct a mass liturgy that suits one’s preferences. Perhaps this was one of the desires of the “reformers”, thinking this would make the mass more attractive to various groups of people who could now make the mass “their own” so-to-speak. This has lead to so much disunity and ghettoization of the faith, not to mention the various heresies that prop up due to bad translations of the mass. So much more could be said…

  9. Imrahil says:

    Well, we don’t, of course, say that nothing is improvable in the Old Rite. The Advent, Eucharist, Dedication and Saints prefaces (but the latter only for very high feasts of Saints without proper preface, such as All Saints) certainly were improvements. As it happens, they can be used even now.

    There might be other things to think about. Thoughts are free, as the saying goes; whether it is prudent to act upon them is quite another thing.

    There even is one reason why the enrichment would be one-sided – for those who feel that, in an ideal world, the Novus Ordo would simply have to go, it makes sense to enrich specifically the Old Rite by what is good from the new rite.

    The proposed changes mentioned here are, however, in any case precisely as wrong as they could be:

    1. “The riches of prayers in the OF should be brought into the EF.”

    Be prepared for a surprise: for each prayer added, one prayer has to be removed. Or the service just gets longer, which may be right in specific cases, but certainly not in general. There has to be time for non-Mass liturgy and free prayer, and of course also things other than prayer.

    And even where the EF has “repetitions”, they have their sense in the repetition itself. To explain what I mean: Having the Nativity Preface on Corpus Christi (as I think was the rule at a time) may have been a nice idea; but introducing an (at the moment I believe optional) Eucharistic Preface still outweighed the loss in this specific case. On the other hand, all of the OF prefaces for the Sundays in Ordinary time are, in themselves, acceptable, and some of them are actually quite good. But repeating the Trinity preface Sunday after Sunday, instead of only using it for the Trinity Feast, certainly has its own significance, and this loss would probably not be outweighed by using distinct Sunday prefaces, leastways not where Sundays after Pentecost are concerned (which make up most of the ones here in question).

    2. “The OF Lectionaries should be brought into the EF.”

    They cannot. Not without breaking up the whole of the rite.

    In the EF, the Sundays all have their specific lessons, and while (in an ideal world where we wouldn’t have to care for prudence) we could think of replacing the Gospel according to one Synopticist by the corresponding Gospel according to another Synopticist, we cannot introduce an entirely new principle (reading one Gospel per year from beginning to end) without changing the entire make-up of the rite.

    And as for the weekdays, most are a saint’s feast. On the others, there’s Lenten weekdays, and then we have to use them for the Mass of preceding Sunday (especially if that Sunday was superseded) or for all of those beautiful Votive Masses, for which there aren’t too many occasions anyway. It happens to be my opinion that (in an ideal world where we wouldn’t have to care for prudence) some of the Saint feasts could be further reduced to commemorations, or allow simple Votive Masses as the simplex-feasts used to do – but even so we just would not have the time to introduce an entire week of green-coloured days to make for the continuous reading of Bible books and Gospels.

    3. “The OF Calendar should be brought into the EF … for example, by shifting Christ the King to November.”

    That is exactly the wrong example. That Christ the King is on the end of October, i. e. after the bulk of the ecclesial year is over but decidedly before the Last-Things month of November with the Feast of All Saints, the Commemoration of All Souls, the Sunday of Last Judgment (and the First Sunday of Advent) begins was done on purpose. It signifies that Christ has to reign even in this life. Which is what it was chiefly instituted to signify, according to Pius XI’s aims. Which is – according to most observers, both traditionalist (with criticism) and liberal (with applause) – why it was moved to the end of the year: to signify that Christ is going to reign but just not yet (so to say).

    Of course, in itself, in an ideal world where we wouldn’t have to care for prudence, you could e. g. have St. Jeanmarie Vianney and St. Dominic switch places, as I believe the Novus Ordo did, to get the former to his actual dies natalis and the latter two days after instead of todays before his. But apparently, it isn’t changes such as this one, which let’s face it are of limited interest to the public, but so breathtakingly significant changes such as the date for Christ the King.

  10. iPadre says:

    There was a time when I thought the reverent celebration of the NO with sacred music was the answer. But through years of reading, study, and prayer, I convinced that Msgr. Klaus Gamber’s conclusions that the Novus Ordo is a radical break with the past. It is so very clear that what we have is a complete change of Rites and one could say a rejection of what that Council Fathers intended for the reform.

  11. Eliane says:

    As someone devoted to the EF, I strongly believe that the only workable policy for EF and OF Catholics is to (1)Respect each other individually and acknowledge the good work that both sides do in the church and the community and (2)keep our noses out of each others’ rites. As Father implies above, after some lengthy period, that may become less necessary, but for now it is essential and nonnegotiable.

    The worst part of this papacy for me is not is confusing messages, but that it seems to deliberately set Catholic against Catholic. We must resist rising to the bait, but meanwhile hold firmly to what we are doing, especially by supporting the EF and keeping it free of Vatican II innovations, growing our communities and teaching their many young children the treasure of the faith. The OF supporters would be best off doing likewise — if they can. If they can’t, they don’t need to drag the rest of us into their morass.

  12. Imrahil says:

    Re: new Saints,

    that obviously is the first and most disputed change to be done (in a world where we wouldn’t need to be prudent) – for some very important or popular Saints. St. Padre Pio, St. Escriva, St. Maria Goretti, St. Maximilian Kolbe come to mind, or maybe the protomartyrs of Japan and Vietnam, etc., as representative for their respective local Churches in the worldwide Church.

    However, I believe that given that they are Saints, they can even now be celebrated on feriae (outside Lent) and mere Commemorations, taking the respective Votive Mass (for one Martyr outside Paschal time, for a Confessor not Bishop, and so on) from the Commons. (Can’t they?)

  13. Sixupman says:

    “I will go unto the altar of God ……. ” – ‘not I will go up to the table to share a meal’?

  14. Titus says:

    The problem, of course, is that lots of perfectly ordinary, orthodox Catholics don’t actually want the Extraordinary Form. Even if they’re perfectly willing to let it enrich the OF, and kneel for Communion and chant Latin propers and don’t want to shake your hand at the sign of peace, even if they’re perfectly happy to let other people have it (or even go themselves once in a while, or have baptisms celebrated using it, etc.), they simply do not want their Sunday Mass in the E.F.


    A variety of reasons. Some grew up in Traditionalist circles back in the Ecclesia Dei afflicta days and had bad experiences, from objectively bad (St. Gregory’s Academy bad) to more gustibus-non-disputandem bad (e.g., perceptions of undue insularity among Traditionalists).

    Some think forming their children solely in the old Mass would needlessly and detrimentally isolate them from their peers and the wider Catholic world.

    Some find the separate calendars and lectionaries between the two forms offputting, for either philosophical or practical reasons: they may find it unreasonable not to be united in these observances with the vast majority of other Roman Catholics throughout the world, or they have built their spiritual life around particular practices and devotions tied to the modern calendar and lectionary (e.g., the truly spectacular In Conversation with God put out by Scepter).

    Some don’t want to have the readings in Latin, or find the silence discombobulating, or have various other run-of-the-mill objections.

    Some have have had irksome run ins with grumpy Traditionalists, and don’t want their parish flooded with such people. Because they’re suspicious of Traditionalists, they may be suspicious of the old Mass itself and people who want it.

    I am not saying these objections are, either collectively or individually, valid. Yes, lots of them are amenable to intelligent, compelling rebuttal. But parishioners in the pews are not academics trying to study a problem and arrive at the right answer. They are people trying to make complex human decisions about how to live their faith based on a wide array of criteria and considerations, some emotional, some intellectual. The fact of the matter is that people do not approach this issue in a vacuum, or on a blank slate. The 1970 Missal is today’s “normal,” and if simply tossed between tow options, one of which is normality, people will tend to choose it.

    I know that this is the case because I have seen it. I was a parishioner at a vibrant, successful reform-of-reform type parish: sung Latin propers and ordinary, chalice veils, Communion rail, solid CCD program for the church full of kids we had, etc. Even when the bishop gave us a new pastor who was not a fan of these things, he had enough sense not to toss them out. But when the bishop told him he wanted our parish to host a weekly, Sunday morning TLM, he stuck it in the time slot that had been occupied by the sung-Latin-propers NO, and made no effort to ease people into it. Even though such efforts were made by others, most of the parishioners left, many for another (even more so) reform-of-the-reform parish nearby.

    So it is not always necessarily the case that if you line the N.O. and the E.F. up side by side, that the E.F. will win people over simply of its own accord. At the very least you have to have circumstances that level the playing field.

  15. Titus says:

    Re: expanding the lectionary, I think this would be a massive mistake — even just filling in the ferias. The Sunday Gospels provide important lessons for us. Holy Church chose for them to be read on their respective Sundays for a reason. I find it much better to have them drilled into our heads over and over throughout the week, rather than hear them once on Sunday and then move on to completely unrelated readings the next day. Exposure to more of Sacred Scripture would be better accomplished by widespread common chanting/recitation of the Divine Office, especially Matins (a pipe dream, perhaps). Not to mention, of course, restoring all the prophecies of the Ember Days and pre-55 Holy Week would bring a plethora of OT readings back into the Mass.

    One possible workaround here would be to increase the number of Saint’s memorials with their own proper readings. Even in the N.O., the majority of saints with optional memorials don’t have their own readings, you just do the one out of the common. But that means, if you use the common for the readings, that you read the same thing a zillion times throughout the year. Giving more saints their own readings would strike a balance between the Bible salad of the cyclical lectionary and the go-read-Matins focus of the old.

  16. Imrahil says:

    In my second comment, “most disputed” should of course read “most undisputed”.

  17. Imrahil says:

    [And: “Sts. … come to mind”: and of course St. Theresia Blessed from the Cross commonly known as Edith Stein. How could I forget her…]

  18. donato2 says:

    I would like to see the calendars and readings of the two forms of the Latin rite unified for two reasons: One, the whole Church really should be praying together, and two, the unification would further legitimatize/de-ghettoize the traditional Latin Mass. That said, I agree that the traditional Latin Mass cannot adopt the new Mass readings. Given the sociological realities in the Church (i.e., the number and power of liberals), it is unrealistic to expect that the new Mass readings would be conformed to the readings of the traditional Latin Mass. So I don’t know what the solution could or might be.

  19. Adeodataomnia says:

    I think a part of your reading of Fr. Stravinskas is unfair. He was suggesting some things which perhaps could be added to the Extraordinary Form from the Ordinary Form, mostly because there is a paucity of such proposals, especially because, for all talk of mutual enrichment, the talk is mostly one-sided, all about how the tradition and goodness of the Old Rite can inform the new. There are, however, legitimate criticisms that could be made of the Old Rite which the Vatican Council tried to address, and unfortunately so much of what could have been good, was hijacked and adulterated.

    I agree with Fr. Hunwicke’s remarks about how the scholarship behind much of the Liturgical Revision was tenuous at best and malicious at worst, especially in regard to the Collects and Propers of the Mass.

    I still think it is interesting to note that, for instance, in the Praenotanda of the Second Vatican Council, the request for a 3 or even 4 year Lectionary was made by a huge number of Bishops when asked for suggestions to put on the Council’s docket. To increase the scope of the Liturgy of the Word was very much a concern not only of the Council Fathers, but also of the (good) members of the Liturgical Reform. This was not some sort of hidden agenda of Bugnini or other people inimical to authentic Tradition.

    I think that Fr. Hunwicke calling Fr. Stravinskas’ article “silly” is dismissive and uncharitable, because whether you love him or hate him, Fr. Stravinskas never writes without at least some degree of thought and scholarship to back him up. I say this also with much respect for Fr. Hunwicke and his own work.

  20. rayrondini says:

    The point about the scriptural impoverishment in the OF is interesting… any reading anywhere about what themes might be softened in the OF, despite the expanded quantity of Scripture?

  21. marybiscuit says:

    Mine is just a comment for witness. For almost 7 years my husband and I and 7 children have been members of an Oratory that celebrates all sacraments in the EF. The fruit of the EF in our family is extensive- increase of all the listed: reverence for Jesus in Eucharist and His church, comfort with silence, knowledge of God, devotion to Saints through traditional prayers, regular prayer at home, awareness of spiritual warfare, increase of faith, and love for God. The contrast is glaring when we attend the local NO. My children are saddened bc the Eucharist is given out by laity- there are no sermons- the altar servers aren’t kneeling much or genuflecting and the bells are rung only 3x . The NO seems to be set up for speed but then lacks reverence in its very rubrics. And funny the EF low mass is not long but extremely reverent. Growing up in the NO church I am discovering my Catholic traditions now, thanks to the Oratory. In the beginning days, the EF was difficult for me bc I had to be healed from attachment to the world. That was the root of my resistance when I encountered the EF. For a time, I was attracted to the Eastern Catholic rite bc of the liturgical impoverishment of the NO. It has since become clear to me however, that I am a baptized Roman Catholic, I am not Eastern, and I need to worship with the fullness of our tradition – the EF.

  22. Titus says:

    To increase the scope of the Liturgy of the Word was very much a concern not only of the Council Fathers, but also of the (good) members of the Liturgical Reform. This was not some sort of hidden agenda of Bugnini or other people inimical to authentic Tradition.

    This is, of course, entirely true. But hindsight is 20/20, and the results of this particular reform have not been good. It’s in the “sounded like a good idea at the time” category. There is room to expand the lectionary, but putting everything on cycles was, frankly, bananas.

  23. Charles E Flynn says:

    Catholic World Report itself has a rebuttal piece:
    On “mutual enrichment” and “Universae Ecclesiae”: A response to Fr. Stravinskas, by Fr. Albert P. Marcello, III.

  24. Gilbert Fritz says:

    I think Titus brings up some good points.

    There are, if the statistic I heard recently is correct, 1,000 priests who say the EF all or most of the time in the whole world, counting the SSPX. For comparison, just in these United States, there are 45,000 priests. Most traditional orders are ordaining quite a few priests and growing, but what will happen when their older members start to die?

    Given this situation with Titus’s comment above, I’d say the reform of the reform will eventually be the way to go.

    And, I do think the EF can be, and should be, enriched. For instance, I understand the argument for saying the Ordinary of the mass in Latin; however, why should the readings be in Latin? Of course we have hand missals, but that still means we get the reading in english, not latin. The point of the readings are instructional; why shouldn’t they be in the people’s language? This would of course be a big change, and should not be done in a hurry. But we could at least discuss it.

    And by all means add in the new saints. A few people in each parish will leave in a huff the first time we celebrate a mass for St. JP II in the EF, but they are throughly ungrateful to the pope who gave them back their Mass.

  25. Imrahil says:

    Of course we have hand missals, but that still means we get the reading in english, not latin. The point of the readings are instructional; why shouldn’t they be in the people’s language?

    I do not deny that changing the readings into the vernacular is one of the more defensible changes.

    All the same: the chief point of the readings is not instructional, but praise of God Who has done such great things. Also, Mass is one, not two separate parts, hence in one language (Vatican II called the sermon a part of the Mass, but it is such only in its own, which is a sort of interruptory, sense).

    The secondary aspect of the readings, the instructional one, is represented by their repetition in the vernacular as part of the sermon, in longer Masses. (Or otherwise, one can just read them in the missal of course.)

    (All the same, I’d be quite fine, if we lived in an ideal world and prudence concerning changes could be set aside, to have the whole 12 traditional lessons for Easter Vigil – not at present part of it -, and them in the vernacular, because saying all of them twice would indeed be too much of a strain.)

  26. mburn16 says:

    Must we choose between qualitative and quantitative? I would argue that both “broad exposure to the completeness of christian scripture” (primary in the OF) and “firm and dutiful instruction of the faithful” (perhaps for want of a better term, but in any case primary in the EF) are worthy and admirable and desirable goals. If both cannot be achieved in a triennial cycle of readings, push it out to every four years. Yes that creates something of a break from the matthew-mark-luke regimen but if it represents an improvement…then it is just that, an improvement.

  27. michele421 says:

    I’m a liberal, and I personally dislike the TLM, but I fully agree that those who find it helpful spiritually should have full access to it. A level playing field sounds like an excellent idea. But here in the South, except in the cities, it’s very common to find only one Catholic church every thirty miles or more. And many of these are mission churches with one priest for several churches who offers a mass at one church and then moves on to the next. Of course, these have no daily masses. So in much of the country a level playing field would only be possible in larger cities, leaving out many, many Catholics.

  28. chantgirl says:

    The Church is in a state of emergency today, in the midst of a war of sorts. Let’s not change battlefield formations which work until things have calmed down a bit.

  29. Aquinas Gal says:

    The Mass developed through the ages, and originally the readings from Scripture were in the language of the people. It makes sense to read Scripture in the vernacular, otherwise most people don’t understand it.
    Fr Felix Just has an interesting table of the percentage of Scripture used in the EF and the OF at Mass, Sunday and weekday.
    Old Testament EF – 1% OF 13.5 %

    New Testament EF 16.5% OF 71.5%

    I appreciate the wider range of Scripture; having gone to daily Mass for years now I am much more familiar with those parts of the Bible than if I hadn’t heard them so often at Mass.

  30. Kerry says:

    Dittos Imrahil, the readings are not instructional. The Mass is an end in itself, and is not didactic but latreutic, worship due only to God. And I wonder about bringing “The riches of prayers in the OF …into the EF.” Would not that be easier the other way round?

  31. Rod Halvorsen says:

    I’d say a good start would simply be the consolidation of the calendar back to the old rite. MAYBE as Fr Z says, add a saint or two, but otherwise leave everything else alone.

    When the “Lutheran” heretics finally leave, they can take the “Lutheran” OF with them if they’d like.

    Let’s call it our going-away gift.

  32. Adeodataomnia says:

    I still think the Expanded Lectionary, along with several other aspects of the Ordinary Form, are in principle positive. I agree with another commentator that if we can increase Biblical exposure AND not water down “thematics”, it would be positive, and also give preachers more material to work with.

    The difference between this and other NO things is where the principle was warped in some way. Someone else made mention of Extraordinary Ministers. Along with Communion on the Hand, it was a disaster. But these were not principles or ideas supported by truly great and holy Churchmen and scholars. But things like deeper liturgical awareness of the faithful, and an expanded Lectionary…these are some of them.

    I understand the Traditionalist arguments in favor of organic development, and I am very sympathetic to them. But we ought not to be negligent in acknowledging that the EF is itself a rite conditioned by time and ecclesiology-as-developed (without denying Apostolic provenance), both in what it emphasizes and what it does not.

  33. michele421 says:

    Growing up in a mostly Protestant community, I was shocked by how little Catholics knew about their faith compared to even the least-religious of the Protestants around me. These were pre-Vatican II Catholics, many taught in Catholic schools. Even with the reforms of Vatican II it’s evident this ignorance hasn’t abated.

    Given this fact, and the fact that many Catholics never darken the doors of their church except to go to Mass, wouldn’t it be a good thing for Mass to convey more GOOD instruction, rather than none at all? I don’t know of any authoritative statement that this would be offensive to God. Surely it would be pleasing to God to teach people how to better glorify Him in their lives.

    And how does it glorify God to read the Bible if no one except the priest can understand it?

  34. mhazell says:

    @Adeodataomnia: I still think it is interesting to note that, for instance, in the Praenotanda of the Second Vatican Council, the request for a 3 or even 4 year Lectionary was made by a huge number of Bishops when asked for suggestions to put on the Council’s docket.

    I feel duty-bound to point out that this is not really true.

    If one ploughs through the relevant volumes of the Acta et Documenta Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II Apparando, out of 2,099 responses to the letter asking what the bishops wanted to discuss at the Council (a 76.3% response rate), around 140 mention the Mass lectionary specifically. This number includes the collective responses of the German Bishops’ Conference (known then as the Fulda Conference) and the Ordinaries of Indonesia (most of whom back then were Vicars Apostolic), which means around 180 bishops/prelates/etc. are accounted for (so around 8.5% of those who responded).

    Of the 180, almost half (73) specifically request a multi-year lectionary spanning two, three, or four years. However, if one strips the collective responses out, only 25 bishops/prelates/etc. actually made this specific request: 1 from Africa, 8 from Asia, 3 from North America, 1 from South America, 11 from Europe, and 1 religious superior (no requests from Central America or Oceania). The Pontifical Salesian University can be added to this figure if one so chooses. The number of other bishops who made the request for a multi-year lectionary without mentioning a specific number of years was 14.

    So, including the collective responses, the percentage of bishops who requested a multi-year lectionary was around 4.1%; excluding the collective responses, i.e. accounting only for those bishops whom one can guarantee made the request on their own initiative, the percentage goes down to 1.9%.

    In short, I’m not convinced one can describe this as a “huge number”, regardless of how one looks at the statistics.

  35. mhazell says:


    You might also want to check out “Not Just More Scripture, but Different Scripture”, Dr Kwasniewski’s foreword to my book Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, available from your Amazon of choice – if our Reverend host will excuse my self-promotion!

    The Index will also greatly assist you in your own research into your question, as well as other questions you might have about the Roman lectionary.

  36. Tom A. says:

    The Traditional Roman Rite was ripped away from us by modernists without any concern or compassion. The Novus Ordo should be repealed in exactly the same way. The “mutual enrichment” idea only perpetuates two side by side religions. If what we believe is determined by how we pray (Lex Orandi Lex Credendi), then in essence what we have today is two different faiths co-existing under one masthead. A house divided will not stand. The libs know this and abhor the TLM for exactly this reason. They know the TLM is the real deal and the NO is a man made creation. They work tirelessly to supress the TLM and anything of tradition because they do not want the faithful to believe what Catholics believed for centuries. The longer the NO is endured by the faithful, the more the faithful will lose the faith that was handed down by the Apostles.

  37. Gilbert Fritz says:

    What is the authority for saying that the readings are NOT instructional, Kerry? Of course, an element can have many purposes; but why NOT instructional?

  38. Father Flores says:

    “The OF Lectionaries should be brought into the EF.”

    Heaven forbid. Just look at this upcoming OF Sunday option (sooooo many options) which allows some priests and deacons to spare themselves the horror of repeating Our Lord’s teaching on marriage.
    This -> MT 5:20-22A, 27-28, 33-34A, 37 is supposed to be “enriching”?

  39. Kathleen10 says:

    Caution: As we know, we humans have a tendency to fix things til they’re broke.

  40. jflare says:

    I read Fr Stravinskas’ ideas with some interest. I recall having listened to a CD that he did back in 2004, addressing the various abuses of the Novus Ordo. Seems to me he raises some good points.

    When offering the Mass, it does not make sense to me for the priest and congregants to be offering the same prayer at differing times or redundantly. Unless we have a compelling theological need, it would make more sense to offer the prayer once, worthily. Then too, I think his critique about “Ite missa est” bears consideration. If you intend offering two or three more prayers and whatnot, you’re still there praying something and the Mass obviously is not yet ended. It would make more sense to me to only declare that “the Mass is ended” when you actually intend to process out.

    Even so, I agree with Fr Z that changing anything about the traditional Mass would be a disastrous move right now. I did not live through the dramatic changes in the late 60’s, but I do recall thinking that Mass had become less…compelling…even in my lifetime. I recall standing in Mass one morning when I was 19, thinking that Mass when I was 10 had much more…something. I could not say what, but I could tell that Mass had changed for the poorer in those 9 years. I think much of the degradation of the Novus Ordo has come about because we tried changing too many things all at once. Vatican II had taught us that we should consider allowing Mass to change organically; we wound up with something rather more like a cement mixer with re-bar thrown in to make things “interesting”.
    Seems to me we should not alter the Extraordinary Form until at least 5 years after this Mass is offered at least once each weekend in at least 40% of parishes, perhaps worldwide, perhaps in one nation. I think this necessary because we cannot truthfully expect the two forms of Mass to mutually enrich each other unless both forms are well known, fairly well understood, and tolerated, if not eagerly accepted.
    Put simply, if we change the traditional rite now, too many “modern-minded” factions would have too much opportunity to undo the Mass. We need for clergy and laity at large to understand the spirituality and reasoning for how the Mass is offered before we agree to change anything to be “more relevant” or sensible.

  41. Neal says:

    Doesn’t a TLM commemorating a pope that tried to suppress or (at best) ignore the TLM seem kind of ironic to you? [It seems to me exactly the right thing to do. All the more reason to pray for him. Let’s not be stingy. Liberals are stingy.]

  42. PTK_70 says:

    Fascinating anecdote regarding conversations with the future pope / pope emeritus. Is Italian the “go to” language when chatting in the halls of the Vatican? What happens, though, when the family name of each interlocutor is German?

    I’m struggling to understand what is meant – practically speaking – by the phrase “logical priority in the mutual enrichment.” [Preference is to be given to how it is done in the Extraordinary Form. Tradition has precedence over innovation. That’s what the Council Fathers indicated, too.]

    “Libs are terrified of the older, traditional form.” I don’t doubt this, but in my experience, in my own parish, the ranks of the folks who act as if they are terrified are made up of people hard to characterize as “liberal.” [In that case you will have an easier time of winning them over.]

  43. Joe in Canada says:

    If there is no adaptation of the EF, then at least here in Canada it will remain inaccessible to and unwanted by huge swaths of the population, who will continue with a disintegrating OF. I agree with Titus – whether you agree or not, huge percentages of regular orthodox church-goers don’t want the EF as it is now.

  44. robtbrown says:

    Kerry says:

    Dittos Imrahil, the readings are not instructional. The Mass is an end in itself, and is not didactic but latreutic, worship due only to God.

    The two are not mutually exclusive. That which is didactic (i.e. all the words) is ordered toward worship. For example, Linus. Cletus, and John & Paul are in the 1st Eucharistic Prayer. I have never once heard a priest mention who they are.

  45. Gabriel Syme says:

    There is nothing to be afraid of, by the way. Let the two forms be offered side-by-side on an even field of play. Let market forces work.

    I agree completely Fr, but this is the nightmare scenario for modernists: they know full well what was ultimately happen, if everyone had free, easy and uninhibited access to both rites.

    Hence the large amount of underhand tinkering etc by so many Bishops, to prevent or limit access to the TLM.

  46. tskrobola says:

    I am pretty positive that the right-side EF Mass in the picture at the top of this article is St. Joseph’s Church on Jay Street in Detroit….can anybody confirm the source of that photo?

    I have lived in Kalamazoo for almost 10 years but I went to St. Joseph’s and served/sang/married/baptized my first children there (and I go back for every Christmas Midnight Mass too).

  47. tskrobola says:

    Speaking of St. Joseph’s, I had the great privilege to serve at Mass for the late great Fr. Thomas J. Bresnahan, a simply wonderful priest with the warmest personality and a great dedication to the liturgy and to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in particular.

    Fr. Bresnahan, Pray for us!

  48. Gilbert Fritz says:

    Gabriel Syme;

    If that is so (bishops being the reason most people don’t attend the EF) why is our EF parish relatively small, and surrounded by OF parishes? Our diocese has not suppressed us in any way, and is in fact quite a solid diocese, which also supports a “Latin” version of the OF at one parish, and has been cleaning up church architecture so that tabernacles are now back where they belong in many if not most parishes. No, I think many folks just want what they are used to. Its hard to blame them, really.

  49. Gail F says:

    The way I see the NO enriching the EF is that many people are familiar with what the prayers mean and what the priest does when (in the EF) they can’t see him. This helps them understand the Mass better if they have not been taught about it. The first time I went to an EF Mass, I felt as if I understood the NO for the first time. I had the feeling, “Oh, so THAT’S what we’re doing!!!” But having been to EF Masses since, I am glad that I know what the prayers say from having said or heard them over and over in my own language, not just from reading along in translation. I think that’s what Pope Benedict was after — an enrichment of understanding and ability to participate from those at Mass. But if you change it you lose that.

  50. Gail F says:

    Gabriel Syme wrote: “…this is the nightmare scenario for modernists: they know full well what was ultimately happen, if everyone had free, easy and uninhibited access to both rites. Hence the large amount of underhand tinkering etc by so many Bishops, to prevent or limit access to the TLM.”

    That’s just silly. As much as one might wish it, people do NOT flock to the TLM when it they have free, easy, and uninhibited access to both rites. Two parishes in my city offer it — I go to one, which has only one English Mass per week; the other has several Latin Masses each week, as well as an OF Latin Mass — and while they are small and happy parishes people are not coming in droves. There’s another parish about hour away that is a TLM parish, staffed by the Priestly Order of St. Peter, and the same is the case. People aren’t swamping their pews, though they are close to many other parishes. Our bishop isn’t a huge promoter of TLM but he sure doesn’t prohibit or limit access to it. – that’s more TLM, in both our major cities, than many dioceses have. None of the three have been inundated.

  51. Gabriel Syme says:

    Gilbert Fritz,

    bishops being the reason most people don’t attend the EF

    That’s not quite what I meant. But I do agree some people choose not to attend the traditional mass.

    I think in many places Bishops have worked to prevent people having the mass they desire. I think if there were no hinderances*, the appeal of the traditional mass would undoubtedly build momentum in terms of the numbers attending and so consequently the numbers becoming curious.

    * and by “hinderances” I would include not just difficulty in accessing the mass, but also the common notion, deliberately cultivated (including regularly by Francis), which suggests that a desire for tradition is somehow odd, a minority interest or a sign of some personal dysfunction. As the mass has been free’d of its chains, we have seen a shift in progressive tactics, from trying to prevent access, to openly suggesting only weirdos would go to such a mass.

    Everyone is different, but it would be odd to me if persons (over time) continued to choose banal protestant style worship, with the atmosphere of a children’s party, over “the mass”. And who could continue wanting to listen to nursery-rhyme style hymns, as opposed to gregorian chant?

    There are various factors at play here, for sure, such as lack of catechesis, including no fundamental understanding of what mass is. After finding tradition, I learned of how the mass is actually the bloodless renewal of the sacrifice of calvary, contrasted to how the novus ordo crowd present it as “a community meal” like the last supper. Ironically, before tradition, I didn’t realise the mass was supposed to represent anything. As a child I just thought it was a mediocre weekly “get together”, chiefly aimed at elderly ladies.

    Also there is the instant gratification culture of today, which means people don’t want to make effort at mass – they just want to turn up and listen to the priests jokes and anecdotes, and beam at their daughters scuttling around the sanctuary dressed as altar servers. When I first attended a low mass, I was quite bewildered and it took several months of effort to begin to be able to genuinely connect with what was going on. Many people have no time / interest for such, mass is just a small part of their sunday routine.

  52. Mike says:

    Holy Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary by which our souls were redeemed and by the infinite merits of whose Victim we hope to be saved. Catholics before 1955 or so, by and large, “got” this message, because everything in the Mass inculcated it. We, by and large, do not, because generations of liturgical tinkering and abuse have obscured it.

    Until we “get” this truth, set aside the tinkering and renounce our waywardness, countless millions more souls, including our own, remain in eternal danger of damnation.

  53. benedetta says:

    My thoughts on this are not from a scholar’s point of view, of course, but as someone who does understand quite well from a schola participant’s point of view of the EF, and also as someone who has had numerous over coffee chats with friends confiding their disappointment with the OF as has been presented and indeed disintegrated in my region for some decades, resulting in successful encouragement of a great many to try the EF, with many of those who decided to return (some did not).

    I think given what has happened to Catholic culture and identity and cohesion coinciding with the sharp decline in sacred worship has led to the mindset of a lot of families as to which Mass to attend to make that a decision requiring the least amount of thought as possible, and mainly limiting to time slots really. Anyone who is used to prioritizing their faith lives differently may perhaps readily scorn this as being relegated to Catholics who just aren’t serious about their faith, however, this is not necessarily true in all instances. In fact, I would argue that making that decision is itself somewhat admirable when it is done in defense of the family, or, when families have perceived, often rightly so, that their interests in salvation have not been heard or responded to in parishes in these decades. Such families do not make Sunday worship the centerpiece but rather reading, EWTN, family rosary, volunteering with say a sympathetic convent or the like to bolster their faith lives. The decision of which Mass to attend then becomes, the nearest with the most convenient time slot. It’s more a get it over with kind of a thing in areas where one sort of Mass is nearly the complete norm, and reverent OF or even EF requires a long drive and a strange time slot. It might be done on occasion, but it doesn’t overall fit or work, meaning, it is not dependable.

    Then there is the question of different readings and saints and calendars. If these were more accessible, then, one could perhaps more easily plan one’s family Sunday interchanging an EF for the typical down the road OF parish such as the Mass is there.

    I would note that a lot of EF congregations have to do what is necessary to change up or substitute given the question of resources. It’s not for me to say what is integral or not, however it certainly seems like this was intention of SP.

    Some EF congregations sing the menu of English hymns in the predictable slots. I don’t think that a horrible notion although I understand that it troubles some. My own view is that EF and reverent OF are both offered in a parish with persons feeling free to attend either will be the best way forward. One way the EF could enrich the OF which was not mentioned is the practice of offering confessions just prior to and even during the Mass on Sundays. I think it would be an excellent way for the EF to inform the OF in a parish. I thought the homily part of Fr. Stravinskas’ recommendations interesting — in many OF parishes even the Gospel is just hinted at — no explication or application at all — just a collection of anecdotes and stories somewhat evocative of some point often elusive that the preacher has in his head about something he believes relates to the Gospel. So I have seen in EF the homilist elect to preach in the pews and with somewhat less “formality” yet still orthodox and incisive into the readings of the day.

    Thinking through the times that I invited friends to experience the EF who decided not to return regularly, I think there is a bit of a shock going from one to the other, so that some adaptation if possible in some places would help to smooth the transition for people and also go back to their sometimes super weird OFs and hope and pray for something better and more sturdy and edifying for themselves and their families, or at least to feel free to dip in and substitute if the time slot works. In places where people have felt betrayed by the Church, unsupported in their very heroic and virtuous commitments to Christ and raising families in an extremely challenging time to remain faithful — again it bears noting that here we are speaking of orthodox, Sunday church going families — it is very important and worthwhile to consider how their sacramental needs would be met and to communicate that they are safe, secure, and listened to. I know the Church does this very actively for all the populations who have complained loudly that their needs are not listened to or met in countless ways. But aren’t the silent, long suffering, OF attending orthodox often somewhat overlooked in their needs? We know the EF is a terrific good. I think it an important counter attack to what has decimated our parishes over forty years to consider a stealth, soft, introduction or transition which includes some adaptation to assist people who have been wandered, betrayed and homeless for quite a long time, and come to expect, little help or good coming their way.

  54. benedetta says:

    I think too, as an added point, that liturgy is not the work of the few and the ordained. It doesn’t seem to me to be enough to say, we who love the EF, that, essentially, “I have mine” and that reverent OF is someone else’s responsibility. At that rate or in that mindset, we really kind of let one another down, in a time when we need to unify much much more given what has occurred and what is occurring and what is on the horizon and nearly already here. I think we should, if we can, consider how to go the extra mile so to speak, or to go out to meet, others who have need of what we enjoy.

  55. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, is it possible to add a “print button” feature to each of your posts?

    [Hmmm… lemme see.]

  56. benedetta says:

    One last point as well, on more reflection, to try and encourage the better minds on liturgy to think about what may be possible and not just reject the premise of the OF enriching the EF out of hand — people today cannot help but breathe and think in terms of deep mistrust of the Church from all quarters. This is regardless of one’s “politics” which some would lead us to believe are the only things that matter. This is regardless of commitment or orthodoxy even. We all know the reasons why leftists and dissenters constantly hammer away at it. But orthodox Catholics often have very valid and legitimate concerns that keep from trusting even the introduction of the EF. I think we do well to listen to this, and consider it, and consider how to present things in a way which is helpful. I am not arguing as others might to reject the elements that make the EF the EF — far from it. We all know what dissenters mean by meeting people where they are. But a lot of the greatest saints whom both orthodox Catholics and EF Catholics know and love truly met people where they were and inspired others to sainthood in their turn by doing precisely that, by offering in a way which is comprehensible and more readily identifiable. This is not according to say, the contemporary world of commercial television advertising culture…or, to the mall Sunday service congregation down the street…but according to what is good and uplifting in them already and recognizing that they have often felt betrayed and abandoned. That they themselves don’t trust any liturgy, liturgist, or necessarily a priest or the Church just for the say so. They aren’t going to come right up and eat out of our hands. But they may with some encouragement enter into something which needs some work to enter into. Many of them already do this work in other areas for exactly the same reasons. The sabbath is made for man. A drive and a whole day for Sunday Mass is ok for an enthusiast, but families with children in many stages cannot always make that doable. But, if something new and not dramatically different was offered at the local parish, that let them still be a parish, then, well. It could inform a lot in either direction for all. As it stands now, I do not see much change in the old approach which was to for the most part contain the EF and at all costs to never permit it to function as a real normal parish among other parishes. It seems to me that the EF has much to be gained by considering how to introduce and help others to get acquainted with it.

  57. Vincent says:

    Have we already forgotten that the Mass of 1970 didn’t come from nowhere? From 1963 to 1969 there were almost yearly alterations, with people doing their own thing – and I’m willing to bet that most of the things suggested in that article were introduced by degrees.

    As for removal of things like the Sign of the Cross from the Canon, bah. As an altar server who regularly MC’s at Sung and Solemn Masses, I have the privilege of standing at the side of the Priest as he makes those, and there’s no other way to describe what happens there than thrilling and awesome (in the proper sense of the word).

    As for the ending of the NO being more final?! It certainly isn’t since you tend to get dismissed with “and the children’s catechism group this week is being led by Mrs…” ad infinitum, before you’re allowed to leave! As a side note, in the Middle Ages, the Last Gospel was seen as being part of the blessing, not a separate thing on its own – in which case the ending of the EF is nothing like as extended as is suggested. (c.f. James Monti’s A Sense of the Sacred).

    The lectionary – well. What a mess. I’m sure we can all appreciate the need for more Scripture, but there are other ways to achieve that – such as buying a Bible. Oddly, it no longer being the fifteenth century, they’re available in all good bookshops, or free online. Liturgically, the Office or the Breviary would stand most in good stead. Really, the depriving of the Faithful of the various (very beautiful) liturgical activities of the Church is quite iniquitous. I have a soft spot for Vespers and Compline, but I would love to go to Matins – and indeed these would provide some great structure to a work day if they were implemented in churches around the world. I suppose that’s too much to ask given that daily Mass isn’t possible at sensible times in a lot of churches.

  58. Stephen Matthew says:

    Were the EF available in the vernacular, or even the proper readings and prayers, its selling power would be greatly improved. That is not to say such a change should be made lightly.

    As it is, if I really had free choice, I would go with the Anglican Use liturgy, it is able to combine many (but not all) of the best elements of the EF and OF. My second choice would be a Byzantine liturgy in vernacular. Neither of those is available, the options being a number of OF masses and one poorly done EF, so I stick with my home parish and make the best of it for now.

    Eventually some change will come to the EF, for all living things within this mortal world must either change or die, it is the natural way of things.

  59. ubicaritas3 says:

    Indeed, it is St. Joseph, which is now St. Joseph Oratory, dedicated to the EF!

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