ASK FATHER: Proposals to priests to “enrich” the Novus Ordo from Tradition

traditional-latin-massFrom a reader…


I’ve recently come across an article on NLM titled “A Primer for aTradition-Minded Celebration of the OF Mass.” As you can assume, this article has suggestions for celebrating the OF Mass traditionally. My question is this: which of the suggestions can be followed in accord with the current liturgical law?

I am a college student discerning priesthood and this topic is of definite interest to me; I want to (God-willing) celebrate Mass one day traditionally and reverently, but at the same time I desire to be obedient to Holy Mother Church and will follow rubrics unless they are not morally permissible.

My initial observations.

NLM writers and smart and reliable.

Rubrics are correctly situated in the realm of moral theology.  That said, it is fairly certain that if a rubric is in an officially sanctioned book, it is morally permissible to follow it.  That doesn’t mean that all rubrics are good rubrics.  Frankly, I think that ill-advised Novus Ordo rubric to ignore the Blessed Sacrament in a conspicuous tabernacle after Mass begins is just plain stupid.  However, I don’t think a priest commits a sin in obeying that rubric.  (I don’t think he commits a sin if he doesn’t, either. But that’s another pot of Bagna càuda).

Over at NLM in the post in question, my friend Greg DiPippo makes some suggestions about things that priests saying the NO can do.  Let’s have a look with my usual treatment.

1. Say the vesting prayers every day. Always wear the maniple, the sign of the work of the priest. When using Roman vestments, cross the stole. Wear the biretta. [Excellent start.  Over time, these can make a difference for a priest’s sense of self as he begins Mass.]

2. Always use the veil and burse for the chalice; a bare chalice is embarrassing and irreverent. [Right!  And we must one day get more into the nuptial imagery in the Mass.] Either have the veiled chalice on the altar before Mass or carry it in in the traditional way. On the way to the altar, recite Psalm 42 quietly.

3. The Mass must be celebrated ad orientem. This is the most important injection of the Tradition into the OF. To change the orientation is to eliminate the terrible novelty of saying Mass facing the people and the misunderstanding of the Mass that ensues from such a posture. Those who are pastors must, after proper catechesis in the parish, re-introduce the ancient and constant tradition of orientation of the celebrant facing liturgical East. Remember that the rubrics of the OF still assume that the priest is facing East, as, for example, to turn to the people at the Orate fratres. (For more details, see “The Normativity of Ad Orientem Worship According to the Ordinary Form’s Rubrics”. [I think you all know what I think about this!]

4. When incense is used, the customary prayers of blessing should be said silently, thereby not breaking the rubric to say “nothing” at the blessing. [Again, were a priest accidentally on purpose to allow a couple words to be audible, I think he’s still in good shape.]

5. The Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) should be in their traditional languages and preferably sung to a simple chant. This injection of Greek and Latin into the Mass, even daily Mass, helps the people become comfortable with the uniform objectivity and universality that the use of Latin affords. The final blessing is another good place to introduce the use of Latin in the Mass. [It’s not as if people don’t know what’s supposed to take place at that moment of the Mass, right?]

6. Make the customary bows in the Gloria at adoramus te, gratias agimus, Jesu Christe, suscipe deprecationem, and make the sign of the Cross at the end.

7. The position of the hands at the Collect, at the Prayer over the Gifts and Post-Communion prayer, should be in the traditional form, never the outstretched arms that came into vogue in the 60s and 70s. Beware of making the traditional form too rigid. [THANKS for that last bit.  Fathers, avoid looking like manequins, please.]

8. The Responsorial Psalm is one of the least happy novelties of the reformed rite. Wherever possible, sing the psalm, or better yet, have a cantor sing the Gradual, which is an option listed in the General Instruction. [Yes, this is a legitimate option!  Benedict XVI reintroduced the Gradual at his Masses.]

9. Memorize both prayers before the Gospel from the traditional rite and say those quietly.

10. At the Creed, make the customary bow at Jesum Christum, a deep bow at et incarnatus est, a bow at simul adoratur, and the Sign of the Cross at end. [But don’t feel compelled to pray with a “J”.]

11. At the Preparation of the Gifts, the berakah prayers that thank God for bread and wine must be said according to the rubrics. They should be said quietly before saying the traditional Offertory prayers silently, Suscipe sancte Pater for the bread and Offerimus tibi for the wine. It would seem that the water is not blessed according to the OF rubrics. [Ummmm….] Bow deeply at In spiritu humilitatis.

12. When censing the gifts, use the traditional three crosses and three circles. Memorize the prayers Dirigatur and Ascendat at the censing of the altar.

13. Memorize the Lavabo prayer at the washing of hands.

14. At the Orate Fratres use the “half-circle” movement. Turn to the right to face the people and then continue turning to face the book.

15. Make a profound bow at the Sanctus and bless yourself at the Benedictus.

16. THE CANON should be said audibly but quietly. God does not have to be shouted at, especially during this most sacred prayer of the Mass.[!!!] At the beginning of the Roman Canon, use the traditional circular motion with your hands and bow profoundly at “Jesus Christ” so that this is as close to the traditional kissing of the altar as possible. Ignore the brackets after Andrew in the list of Apostles and always include all of the saints in the list beginning with John the Baptist. Before the consecration, wipe your thumbs and forefingers three times on the corporal. Genuflect both before and after you elevate the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood. Keep “digits” (thumb and forefinger joined) from after the consecration until the ablutions.

17. At the Our Father use same hand position as for the Collects.

18. Turn to the people for the Peace, and then turn back to the altar and begin the Agnus Dei.  [In other words omit the entirely optional invitation to make a “sign of peace”.]

19. When receiving the Host and Chalice, make the sign of the Cross with each before receiving. Memorize the prayers Panem caelestem and Quid retribuam and use them before consuming the Sacred Species.

20. Have the altar server ring the bell immediately after you have consumed the Sacred Species. This is important to let the people know that the Sacrifice is complete. The reformers deliberately moved the Ecce Agnus Dei to before the priest’s Communion to make it seem that the priest is just receiving Communion first before the people. The priest is not “receiving Communion”; he is completing the Sacrifice. [His point about moving the Agnus Dei is a good one.  Priests should reflect on this.]

21. Always do the double ablutions, first only wine, holding the paten under your chin, and then wine and water, holding your joined thumb and forefinger over the chalice as the server pours the wine and water over them. When consuming the second ablution hold the purificator under your chin. Dry your fingers with the purificator, cleanse the chalice thoroughly, cover the chalice with the veil and place the corporal in the burse.

22. After the post-Communion prayer go to the foot of the altar and say the prayer to St Michael, followed by Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us, three times. Or, consider using the full suite of Leonine prayers: three Hail Marys; Hail, Holy Queen; the prayer for the Church; the St. Michael Prayer; and the threefold Sacred Heart invocation.

23. If possible say the Prologue to John en route to or in the sacristy after Mass.

Good suggestions, all.

Okay, Fathers, get out there and start enriching!

¡Hagan lío!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. padredana says:

    So, other than an “ummmm” you didn’t comment on using the older forms of the offertory prayers. Is it allowable? Does a priest sin if he does this? Inquiring minds want a clear answer!

    What about adding some of the old genuflections back? What about adding a few of the old signs of the cross back? Are doing these things sinful? Prudent?

  2. christopherschaefer says:

    Just a minor correction: while the post is by Greg DiPippo, the article itself is by Fr. Richard Cipolla, pastor of St Mary’s Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, USA. As a parishioner, I can confirm that Fr. Cipolla incorporates all of the suggestions mentioned in the Novus Ordo Masses (English & Spanish) at St. Mary’s, while the Solemn Traditional Latin Mass remains the center of the parish’s liturgical life:
    Father omits mention of the role of ALTAR SERVERS in restoring traditional liturgical practice. At ALL Masses at St. Mary’s, the servers make a profound bow as the priest begins the words of consecration; they likewise make a profound bow when the priest passes them holding the ciborium as he returns to the altar after communion. The servers incorporate many other traditional practices too numerous to list here. Needless to say, we only have male altar servers–which explains why this rather modest-sized parish has an average of nearly 20 servers at the Sunday 9:30 am TLM and a significant number of servers at Novus Ordo Masses, as well. If you’ve ever watched children playing in a school play ground, the boys typically will be at one end and the girls at the other end. Political-correctness has not yet taken over the schoolyard–and likely never will.

  3. hwriggles4 says:

    Here’s a suggestion for the Ordinary Form:

    Keep the offertory song short enough so that after the gifts are presented, the congregation can actually hear the priest recite the words, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation…Lord wash away my iniquity, cleanse me from all my sins.” Personally, I think when the congregation hears these words, the Mass is more meaningful.

    One parish I sometimes attend practices this regularly at Sunday Mass.

    Thanks for listening.

  4. I think if I attended an OF Mass celebrated incorporating most, if not all of these suggestions (and knew that the priest was silently reciting the missing or truncated EF prayers when necessary) I think I would faint, considering the current ars celebrandi I’e witnessed in most suburban parishes.

    Too much to ask? Maybe some of our fellow clerical participants here who are in agreement, using the samidzat principles, could start a counter-trend back towards sanity just as the deconstructors did in the 60s and 70s going in the other direction…just sayin’…(and acknowledging that they have to deal with the pantsuited hordes in chancelleries who might take a dim view of the goings-on…).

  5. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    The “gravitational pull” of enrichment ought to be a two-way street. Every one of these suggestions is outstanding and would enrich OF Mass. The EF Mass needs the enrichment of the OF’s outstanding lectionary.

    To avoid a myriad of rabbit holes, I ask Fr. Z to open this as a topic.

  6. george says:

    Sid Cundiff in NC:

    It is arguable as to whether the OF Lectionary is an improvement. Dr. Kwasniewski has an article that discusses this topic:

    Also, before it would be prudent to enrich the EF with the OF, there needs to be a period of stability for the EF and the OF needs to reach stability.

  7. Say the black; do the red. Period. Otherwise you give tacit consent to the “abuses” introduced by priests who do not follow Fr. Z’s famous phrase.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    “The EF Mass needs the enrichment of the OF’s outstanding lectionary.”

    I agree. I would also like to see the Season of Septuagesima restored to the OF.

  9. aliceinstpaul says:

    I attend a parish that does nearly all of this within the OF (sadly, what’s missing is ad orientem.) Previous parish in another state did nearly all of this, too. Vesting prayers, vesting garb, latin/Greek for kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, lavabo, bells at end of consecration, bows, hand positions, draping of chalice before and after. We pass several suburban parishes on our way to our parish. It’s worth it.

    The real problem for the laity is that we don’t understand what’s required and what’s permissible as everywhere we go, so many elements of the mass are totally different. Are these inventions? Options? The way the old mass used to be? Of course, the more I know, the more I realize I’ve no idea and probably most priests don’t either. Yet again, the protestantism/versioning/fracturing of Catholicism.

  10. padredana says:

    hwriggles4, the offertory prayers, according to the rubrics, can be said aloud OR silently, and if incense is used (which certainly should be used on Sundays and Solemnities) it makes sense for the music to continue so that the incensation can be done with music. The new offertory prayers are horrid anyway. I say restore the old offertory prayers, which are far more beautiful than the ones in the OF. Until that happens, I will offer them silently, even if there is no music. I would rather spare the faithful from having to hear them.

    Also, Sid, the new lectionary has it’s own problems. I’d much rather have the old lectionary. There is great catechetical opportunities when the same scriptures are heard every year. Repetition is a good thing!

  11. Gilbert Fritz says:

    Interestingly, that is the way many things were added to the Mass over the years; private devotions of the priest or people were eventually incorporated. For instance, I know that the prayers at the foot of the altar were that way, and I believe the major elevation and the three prayers before communion were the same way. I seem to recall hearing that the Gospel of John was also in this class, but somebody can correct me if I’m wrong.

  12. frmh says:

    Some good points, but I think you are not being thorough enough.

    1) The missal makes no mention of a pall, but everyone uses a pall, therefore the pall should be used with the accompanying genuflections. No one says this but this is an obvious point.

    2) The missal says the whole offertory thing can be done in silence, so just do the old prayers, it ain’t rocket science. All the old offertory prayers and incense prayers, with accompanying signs of the cross and kissing of altar. These should all be learnt off by heart.If you are proficient the whole movement take no longer than the modernist Berachot prayers. I do this every day I am obligated to say NO and have done so for the last 2 years since ordination. Holier and more experienced priests follow this, it is obvious.

    3) Double Genuflection should be done, many of the great and holy princes of the church do the double genuflection at the consecration, I think their example is normative and shows that double genuflection is acceptable.

    4) Only use the roman canon, no exceptions. If the mass is offered ad orientem as should also be the case, then there is no harm in doing all the signs of the crosses. Profound bow at the beginning, kiss altar etc etc. The new translation is a gift which makes the rubrics match up to the words perfectly.

    There is too much obsession with sticking to novus ordo rubrics, we should see novus ordo as a blip in tradition, the weight of tradition will naturally pull a celebrant towards enrichment with traditional rubrics- that is how organic development works. It is a work of the Holy Spirit, it is tradition with a small t, it is custom that develops in certain parishes. We are not talking innovations, we are talking about the magnetic pull of the TLM, of the traditional liturgical history of the Roman Rite.

  13. servulus indignus Christi says:

    Or….just use the true Mass of Tradition. Simple.

  14. JAZ says:

    As to the suggestion (#22) to say the prayer to St. Michael after the post-communion prayer, wouldn’t it be more traditional to say it after Mass? At my OF parish, the priest leads the congregation in reciting the prayer to St. Michael after the closing hymn, followed by the triple invocation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, followed by invocations of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and of the patron saints of our parish and diocese. At that point, the priest, deacons, and altar boys process out down the main aisle, and as the priest passes each pew, the people in that pew kneel down for a while. By the way, our closing hymn is normally either Regina Coeli, Salve Regina, Alma Redemptoris Mater, or Ave Regina Coelorum, depending on the liturgical season, sung in Latin in Gregorian chant.

  15. padredana says:

    frmh, I also suggest doing something that I have been doing for a long time: the older rubric of “hiding” the paten under the corporal. The symbolism behind it is beautiful!

  16. APX says:

    And we must one day get more into the nuptial imagery in the Mass.

    Yes! Please do! I have heard snippets of it here and there, and it has always left me wanting more, but this seems to have all but disappeared in writings about the Mass.

  17. SpesUnica says:

    For 90%+ of these revivals I would personally rejoice, but I am uncomfortable about truly breaking the rubrics of the NO. Where the GIRM is silent, where there is no rubric, then can’t you do something (because even doing ‘nothing’ is a profound liturgical action), and why not the thing that was always done? But I want to respect the liturgical regulations even when I wish they were other than they are at present, because most of the worst abuses of the liturgy would be much lessened, and most of the sacrileges eradicated, if all priests merely “said the red and did the black.”

  18. iamlucky13 says:

    I would definitely like to see most of these carried out. The rest, I only withhold my opinion because I don’t know enough about them, but I have no reason to object to them.

    Several of the priests I know do quite a few of these in the Ordinary Form, and only one of those I’m thinking of also celebrates the Extraordinary Form. I think there is a budding appreciation of these traditional elements among many young priests even if they haven’t been exposed to the EF.

    Isn’t the Lavabo prayer required? I’ve always assumed when I don’t heart he priest praying it, he is simply doing so silently.

  19. Amazing at this site. People continue to say that priests should violate the rubrics and text of the Ordinary Form. SAY THE BLACK, DO THE RED! And that’s all there is to it.

  20. Pingback: THVRSDAY CATHOLICA EDITION | Big Pulpit

  21. seattle_cdn says:

    How about the Prayers at the Foot of the altar being said in the sacristy with the servers before the Introit?

  22. As much as I want to do every single thing on the list — and more besides — I can’t go along with it, for the reasons Father Augustine, above, states. There is the matter of the rubrics.

    Now, I think some things can be done without any violence to the rubrics. I see the use of the maniple and biretta in that category, as well as some gestures.

    Others are practical: that is to say, it’s practical to do certain things the same way, whether in the ordinary or extraordinary form. Keeping my fingers together after the consecration, for example, and the sign of the cross with the paten and chalice during the offertory, and the sign of the cross with the Host and chalice at the priest’s communion, for example.

    But as far as when the chalice goes to the altar, and the blessing of the incense? I confess I was doing those things, but stopped recently, precisely because I’d forgotten that the OF rubrics very specifically address these points. When I am Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship in the reign of Pius XIII, I will seek to alter these (and other rubrics); nevertheless, I think I should be docile to the present ones.

    That said, there is still ample opportunity for a priest to reflect, in the OF, what belongs to the EF but ought to be universal. Silence, greater care and precision in how he carries out his duties, and so forth.

  23. frmh says:


    One of the things that convinced me to towards the necessity of mutual enrichment beyond the red and black is the article by Fr Timothy Finigan,

    It is very good reading for all priests thinking over these issues.

    I don’t think returning to the previous rubrical directions is comparible to a liberal inventing things. It is returning to ancient liturgical practices, it is not inventing and tinkering around, and when you are trying to have the two forms existing side by side in a parish it makes a lot of pastoral sense.

    And in fact, even a liberal inventing things aside from wrecking the consecration cannot be said to be committing a sin according to the GIRM, as far as I am aware, there is no discussion of this, not like in the older missal. What you do find is a lot of tolerance where “pastoral reasons” come into play. If ever there were pastoral reasons, or a need for inculturation, it is here.

    I think there needs to be a longer reflection and discussion on this,

    I obviously don’t want to be damned, I don’t want to be commiting a mortal sin in all this- as things stand my conscience does not rebuke me for including the rubrics I mentioned in the earlier post.

    I would also love to hear what priests think about the use of the pall. That is not in the OF rubrics, so why do you use it? Are you sinning in adding this? Does it prick your conscience? Probably not. By extension, in any silences we should revive the older prayers, where the rubric is not given we should most certainly read it as if it were an oversight that it was not included.

    That is the first step, admittedly doing three signs of the cross over the oblata when it says “once” goes beyond this, I think a second chain of argumentation comes in then, on the lines of the development of the missal in light of Summorum Pontificum.

  24. It is so refreshing to read this. Considering everything which “should” be added, would it not be simpler (in english at least) to celebrate the reabilitated anglican Ordinariate?

  25. frmh says:

    I use the ordinariate every other week (licitly and with permission), that is a whole different subject. In all honesty I don’t think it is the solution. I think I would say I prefer the NO to it, but that is another subject for another post.

  26. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    When giving communion to the faithful (they are kneeling at the altar rail), I ‘say the black’ by pronouncing clearly and aloud the words “Corpus Christi”, but then under my breath (for I can pray for anyone at any time, can’t I?) I add “custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.”

Comments are closed.