ASK FATHER: Priest plugged Novus Ordo things into a TLM

12_12_06_priesthoodFrom a reader…

This past weekend I attended a TLM, let’s just say in New England, where a a couple odd things occurred.

1) The priest came out to the lecturn and read the standard NO “Prayers of the People”. I was scratching my head as Mass started right after this with the procession. I have to add that I’m not a fan of the Prayers of the People where so many of the requests are banal or progressive sounding. “Pray for vacationers…”, etc. Um, there are so many bigger fish to fry that never get mentioned. Anyway…

2) Mass went on as usual. As this was a Palestrina Mass, I could not hear the priest over the music, and the long pauses as he waited for the music at times threw off my understanding of exactly where we were in Mass. I also could not tell what he sang for the Gospel. When he started his homily he referenced both the ’62 and ’70 missal Gospel readings and did his best to combine them into a cohesive thought, but it seems oddly disjointed.

Why would a priest in a TLM parish, in the context of a high Latin Mass, attempt to staple a few NO bits and bobs onto the TLM? I haven’t seen this before and wondered what you thought might be behind this kind of arrangement.

You are asking me why he would do those things.   I must respond that your planet’s recently moon eclipsed yellow star doesn’t give me that particular super power.  Mind reading is more of a Martian Manhunter thing.

It seems to me, from what you described, that the priest is attempting a kind of “mutual enrichment” of the two forms.  This “mutual enrichment” was specially desired by Benedict XVI.  However, Benedict also legislated that the two forms were to remain separate.  That means that only over time will such an enrichment take place, in an organic and natural way.

Also, in general, the priest doesn’t generally wait for the music in the TLM, except perhaps before the beginning of the Preface or before the Postcommunion.  Part of the genius of the Roman Rite is that more than one thing can take place at the same time.   If a priest has limited experience of this, he may not quite understand the ethos of the TLM and, therefore, his ars celebrandi could be a little awkward or out of step with the rite.  So many priests are conditioned by the Novus Ordo and having everything center on themselves or about being heard, etc.  The ars celebrandi of the older, traditional form requires a different view.

Referring to the Gospel readings for both the NO and the TLM… well okay.  I don’t see a problem with that for a couple reasons.  First, some priests have to say both forms and they’ve worked on the NO Gospel.  Also, in the modern rite, the NO, the priest is strongly urged to preach from the readings.  In the traditional rite, the TLM, the priest has greater freedom.  Given that the Word of God from one Gospel passage is going to be consistent with the Word of God from another Gospel passage, it should be possible with some thought and creativity to harmonize them in a sermon and make a good point.  If a priest is not truly deft in the pulpit, he would be prudent to avoid trying to do that.

Finally, based on your note, I doubt very much that the priest was trying to screw around with the traditional form out of some kind of malice or distaste for it.  He was probably well-intentioned.  Perhaps with the help of some kind, constructive and instructive feedback, he’ll learn how to adjust his ars celebrandi so that it is more appropriate for the TLM.

UPDATE 30 August 2017:

From a reader…

On August 22nd, a visitor attending the Latin Mass in our parish offered some very distorted critiques of what he thought he thought he saw. I am a parishioner in that parish. [The parish was not indicated.] I attended Mass on August 22nd. What visitor described simply did not happen. [Maybe.  The parish was not indicated.] It is troubling that something so distorted can appear on a public forum.

What boggles my mind as to how he or she could confuse the parish announcements for the Novus Ordo Prayers for the Faithful! Bans of Marriage? The date of the parish picnic? Funeral announcements? How could anyone confuse these for the Prayers of the Faithful! [If, indeed, that was the same Mass, then, yes, it is really hard to see how they could be confused.]

Our pastor gives these announcements before the Mass begins so as not to interrupt the prayerful flow of worship. Always, after the announcements he leads the congregation in an Our Father, Hail Mary and prayers for the deceased. Again, no resemblance to the prayers of the Faithful. [True, if that was the same Mass.]

Regarding the homily that drew on two tests from the gospels … It does not always happen that the Gospel readings of each rite compliment each other. In this case they did, and Father’s homily brought the two texts together into a homily that was well prepared and insightful. I was glad of this since, even though our parish celebrates two different rites, we are one parish. Such a homily is a good way through the sacred Word to remind us of that unity.

Parishioners appreciate the sincerity and holiness of our pastor. We appreciate his consistent efforts to celebrate Mass in both rites, preserving in each due reverence. We appreciate also the fact that he is always accessible for the Sacrament of Penance. [HURRAY!  Fr. Z kudos.]

The many young men and boys (often two dozen), in cassock and surplice, who serve at the altar, benefit from his priestly example.

They appreciate his disciplined training. (He is a former Navy chaplain.) [Fr. Z kudos.]

I have no doubt that Father is the main reason why this parish is so rich in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It is no surprise that deacons in training request that this parish to be the locus for their field work.

Given the slanted and false information given by your correspondent’s letter, you did your best to offer some insight concerning rubrics, but you were not well served by such a letter. It saddens me that such a letter could be written in the first place. [That’s the way things go.  You should see the rest of my email.]

As always, I am grateful to you for you good ministry. These is difficult times and I am glad that along with our good pastor, we have the benefit of good work. I pray that God bless you.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kate says:

    We have our own GRRR moments almost every Sunday. Our priest says both forms of the Mass on Sunday, and he doesn’t want to prepare two different homilies. Okay, I can understand that. However, he usually reads at least one and sometimes all three readings from the NO after chanting the Latin EF readings for the day. He says we need to “keep ourselves tuned in to what the rest of the Church is doing.” Personally, I just think that if he wants to give the same homily to everyone, then fine. But I had just as soon leave the NO readings at the NO.

    [I don’t think it is a good idea to do that. Let the NO be the NO and the TLM be the TLM and stop feeling apologetic about it.]

  2. wolfeken says:

    Sadly there are a few cases of diocesan priests slipping post-1962 practices into TLMs, including seminarians distributing communion, communion under both species, communion in the hand, etc. Universae Ecclesiae was quite clear on novelties such as these and the mid-late 1960s prayers of the people:

    “28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.”

  3. APX says:

    At least at the NO Masses I have attended, none have ever been a “Palestrina Mass”. That would be most welcomed.

    Furthermore, as the reader pointed out, the prayers of the faithful were said prior to Mass starting, so they weren’t really put in with the TLM.

  4. Rich says:

    I think we will learn more about true mutual enrichment as we learn how it is distinguished from “mixing the rites”.

  5. csc says:

    I was at the same mass and in my view, there was nothing wrong with what the priest did.

    As APX stated, the prayers of the faithful (and announcements) were made before Mass.

    At the sermon, he did allude to both Gospels, but Father made the NO Gospel relevant to the TLM Gospel.

    The Latin chant of the Gospel was hidden behind the Palestrina, but the vernacular was clear.

    The Palestrina was lengthy and beautifully done, and Father did pause at certain points for conclusion of the ordinary parts before moving on to the next – but that behavior is in the rubrics and certainly makes sense.

    All and all, there’s nothing to complain about here. It was a properly celebrated and beautiful Mass.

  6. APX says:

    The Latin chant of the Gospel was hidden behind the Palestrina, but the vernacular was clear.

    What were they singing that it covered up the Gospel? Did they sing the Gradual and Alleluia polyphonically?

    Do you know why Palestrina Mass it was!

  7. csc says:

    Yes – the Gradual and the Alleluia were sung.

    The Palestrina was Missa Repleatur Os Meum Laude Tua.

  8. Sword40 says:

    I’m soooooo glad that I don’t have to put up with the mixing of Forms of the Mass. We have an FSSP parish. and that says it all.

  9. Paska says:

    I, too, was present at that Mass. It was reverent, beautiful, and completely in accord with the TLM rubrics. The priest did not “plug Novus Ordo things” into the Mass.

    First, announcements, special intentions, and the Prayer of the Faithful were said well before Mass began. These prayers concluded with the priest leading the congregation (kneeling) in the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Prayer for the Dead. It was a beautiful way to get properly disposed for Mass. And, there was a clear demarcation between these prayers and the start of the Mass, which began with the Asperges, followed by the Procession.

    Second, the Gospel was chanted beautifully in Latin. It was not “hidden” by the Palestrina.

    Third, the homily tied together the Gospels from the 1970 and the 1962 Missals in an organic, thematic way. There was nothing forced about it. Rather, the reference to the Novus Ordo Gospel (St. Matthew) story of the healing of the Canaanite’s demon-possessed daughter tied in beautifully with the TLM Gospel (St. Mark) about the healing of the deaf mute man in the Decapolis region. Both reflected the universality of Christ’s desire for the healing and salvation of all men and women.

    Contrary to what the reader reported, there was no “attempt to staple a few NO bits and bobs into the TLM.” There was no attempt at “mutual enrichment.” It was an orthodox High Latin Mass in all its beauty and glory.

    As always, the priest heard confessions before and after Mass. He is a holy, orthodox, and faithful shepherd to his flock. And, the parish produces vocations!

  10. Pingback: TVESDAY CATHOLICA EXTRA | Big Pulpit

  11. SWP says:

    Fr. Z,
    I’m curious to know more of your thoughts about the Mutual Enrichment.
    I had hoped that ultimately, we would see the Ordinary Form restored to reverence and fullness, as the authors of Vatican II had originally envisioned (and not the stripping of the altars that did take place). I had hoped that the two would not be side-by-side indefinitely, but that they would bleed into each other. But the article from Fr. Stravinkas was widely denounced, and there are many people who want the Extraordinary Form to remain utterly intact. [Apart from the individual ideas that Fr. Stravinskas has, my main concern is that we need a long period of stability before anything might be legislated. Summorum Pontificum has only been in effect for a mere 10 years, coming up on this 14 Sept. Tinkering around with the Usus Antiquior at this point would be highly imprudent. Also, the Novus Ordo needs a period of stability, BUT… stability in its PROPER celebration. This needs patience.] I had thought that there would be a gradual merging into one. When does this “organic and natural” process happen if there isn’t even agreement that we should be ultimately merging? The Pope’s recent comments to Italian liturgists seems to suggest that such a merger is impossible. If everyone who idolizes their preferred Form still preserves the Forms as distinct, then how can it ever arise naturally? Won’t there have to be follow-up documents to Summorum Pontificum that would incrementally require the merger? [Frankly, Pope Francis has power to do this or that brutal thing to what is happening, but he doesn’t have the power to stop what may happen down the line in a mutual enriching of the two forms.]
    What is the benefit of a mutual enrichment without mixing? What does mutual enrichment mean if not mixing, bleeding, and ultimately merging? To me, what you (unless I misunderstand you) and some readers have described simply looks like stasis. I didn’t think His Loveliness Pope Benedict had envisioned stasis; [He didn’t. And I have written about that here many times.] rather the OF would turn outside of itself and towards the East. Meanwhile, the EF would adopt the many reforms that the Council fathers had laid out. Basically, the gradual process that ought to have begun in 1970 would be re-introduced and carried through properly, with catechetical rollouts and incremental changes explained one at a time. It would be the slowest peeling away of the band-aid in the history of growing pains, but it would be undertaken nevertheless. [Operative word: slow.] That’s what I had hoped for when I read Summorum Pontificum.

    Aren’t there already some basic areas that can be agreed upon? Namely, that it is good to have the readings in the vernacular and the eucharistic prayer ad orientem? Would such a mass not be licit because it was a mixture and blend of the “best of both” rather than adherence to all the elements of each separately? [Be careful: The Novus Ordo is properly celebrated in Latin and ad orientem. The rubrics even assume that it is celebrated ad orientem. No permissions or changes are needed for the Novus Ordo to be in Latin and ad orientem right now!]

    I have been surprised to learn that there is hostility towards the three-year cycle of readings, the permanent diaconate, and concelebration, all of which seem like good ideas to have arisen out of the Council. Why can’t those things be kept while returning to the cassock, the incense, the chant, and the facing East, all of which babies were reprehensibly thrown out with the bathwater, so to speak?

    What is mutual enrichment without also mutual surrender, mutual acknowledgment that neither Form is perfect in its current state, and both Forms are lacking?

Comments are closed.