“An awful lot of clergy dislike the Novus Ordo, once you add both those opposing groups together”

New Say The Red - Do The Black / New Translation coffee mugThe inimitable Fr. H today has a spiffing piece at his blog Mutual Enrichment.  Let’s have a look.

Taking a breath

We are told that a certain sort of Novus Ordo cleric complains that the current 2010 English translation of the Roman Rite is difficult for him to read. He certainly (judging by two OF Masses I attended last summer) does sometimes have difficulties: taking breath at the right times; pausing; emphasising … all those little tricks by which a crafty hierophant conveys the impression that he understands what he is saying.

The poor dear poppets. They, impoverished souls, may have no ministerial background in delivering liturgically the rolling Tudor periods in Dr Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. I pity them. Of course they are going to have trouble with any text that goes on for more than a dozen words without a full stop or colon[That’s our situation now, I’m afraid.  I wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to require seminarians, over their years of formation, to have a permanent workshop in which they must stand and recite poetry, passages of mighty prose or famous speeches.]

OK; fair enough. But one thing really does puzzle me. There are four words which they seem so often incapable of saying … three of them monosyllabic … “The Mystery of Faith”[This is, perhaps, a kind of proof that those words shouldn’t be there, in that moment and for that function, in the first place!]

So one gets all sorts of irrelevant nonsense: “Let us proclaim the beauty of our wonderful Catholic Faith”. That sort of thing. My memory is imperfect about details, because, being what PF would call a Rigid Pharisee, my mind tends to be distracted from the interesting and unrigid things the inventive presbyter is saying. Ever a victim to distraction, I am instead caught up in the wonder of the Theophany which he has just brought about upon the Altar. [ROFL!] I can’t help that; I’m too old to change now. But take it from me …

Those four words, of course, are intended to refer to the Mystery of the Great Presence. That is why they were originally within the Verba Domini. [ehem… they still are!] I once wrote a piece about this, which I imagine would be accessible via the Search Engine attached to this blog.

Ah, well. Perhaps things are better in seminaries nowadays. Perhaps the chaps do now get some input, both about the meaning of the Liturgy and how to celebrate it. How to breathe, for example. [See my comments, above.] But what those older clerical chaps do demonstrate, by their endless propensity to change the words, to ad lib their own interminable clevernesses, is this: they obviously find the Novus Ordo (both as composed and as translated) very deeply unsatisfactory; inadequate to meet their own needs and what they assume to be the needs of their people.  [Otherwise, why are they constantly tinkering with it?]

Well … ‘traddies’ find it unsatisfactory … this other ‘trendy’ lot does too … so there seem to be an awful lot of clergy who dislike the OF, once you add both those opposing groups together.

Is there anybody out there who really does like the OF, as opposed to merely tolerating it for pastoral reasons, or using it as the springboard for personal inventiveness?

A challenge!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  2. jflare29 says:

    “Of course they are going to have trouble with any text that goes on for more than a dozen words without a full stop or colon.”
    So, I can understand this to mean that priests need to actually comprehend the text they read, thus to know when to pause, breathe, or stop. I must say though, I rather like punctuation myself. Such came about not just for an excuse for grammar teachers to give students nightmares.

  3. “The Mystery of Faith”: I was well into my thirties before I learned what exactly those words referred to. I doubt I’m the only one. Yet another reason not to have moved them.

  4. ex seaxe says:

    That the ‘Eucharistic Acclamation’ has three different forms, and no means of directing which is to be used, is a liturgical absurdity. One versicle one respond, is surely essential. There is no way the thing works as written, and the fact that it has not been changed after all these years is incomprehensible to me.
    For my money the extra option, which the Irish have managed to get allowed of ‘My Lord and my God’ is better than any of the Latin phrases. Crisp, to the point, and biblical.

  5. JesusFreak84 says:

    My best friend’s husband really and truly loves the NO, to the exclusion of all others and with a begrudging toleration of Eastern Rite liturgies in the name of “tolerance,” but he’s literally the only one I know who would go to the mat for the OF if the EF were to become the norm once more.

  6. frjim4321 says:

    I never heard anyone ad lib “The mystery of faith.”

  7. Malta says:

    “…recite poetry…” I know this one by heart; my favorite poem by my favorite poet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ttlSOHESJE

  8. JonPatrick says:

    I have to admit I haven’t heard anyone ad lib “The mystery of faith” either. Occasionally an older supply priest might fall back to the pre 2010 wording and prepend “Let us proclaim …”. But generally I don’t attend that many NO’s and when I do they are usually by solid priests who say the black and do the red.

    I wish it would get put back into the canon the way it is in the EF. It is such a distraction to have to hear that then try to guess which response you are supposed to use, when you should be focusing on what is happening on the altar.

  9. Il Ratzingeriano says:

    Many people who attend the Extraordinary Form love its beauty, so much so that you commonly see people film it with their I-phones or post photos of it. You don’t see this with the Ordinary Form. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, the Ordinary Form is not as beautiful as the Extraordinary Form. Two, the Ordinary Form is such a protean creature that it has little that is sufficiently enduring to love. You can’t love an innovation the same way you love a ritual (which by definition is not an innovation).

    It thus seems to me that the commitment to the Ordinary Form derives from an ideological commitment rather than from a love of the Ordinary Form itself.

  10. Fr. Reader says:

    It is just like the Ite Missa est (I do not remember how it goes in English.) People get confused when I use the short version (just the translation). They expect me to say “This Wonderful Mass is ended, now go, be good, love God, bring joy to the world, be happy, etc, etc.” So they can say: Thanks be to God.
    Somehow, we feel the need to surround the mystery with so much marshmallow, cuteness, political correctedness, and cheap self-help encouragement phrases, that we end up substituting the mystery with our psycho-babble. We demystify the mystery.

  11. Fr. Reader says:

    ” How to breathe, for example. ”
    We were taught how to breathe. I always remember that.

  12. surritter says:

    Fr. Reader… your comment about the dismissal reminds me of the deacon at my parish, who always ad libs that dismissal — trying to weave in some cute phrasing from the Gospel of the day. So instead of “Go forth, the Mass is ended” (or one of the other legitimate options), we get “Go forth, and be the loaves and fishes to others in our community” or something like that. UGH.

  13. Fr. Reader says:

    I have heard some ad lib of “The mystery of faith”, but in other languages, not in English. Things as “This is the Sacrament of Love”.

  14. jaykay says:

    ex seaxe: “For my money the extra option, which the Irish have managed to get allowed of ‘My Lord and my God’ is better than any of the Latin phrases. Crisp, to the point, and biblical.”

    “My Lord and my God” first appeared around late 1968, as I recall, just before the NO came in, when they started using the translated form of the Roman Canon that made it into the NO as EP1 (in Ireland the Canon was still in Latin up to late ’68, although everything else had been translated, as far as I remember). The other acclamations came in with the NO, of course, but “My Lord and my God” continued to be used occasionally over here, mainly when the Gospel featured St. Thomas.

  15. Simon_GNR says:

    I prefer the NO – if it’s done *properly*. But, so often it isn’t – the NO seems to lend itself to mediocrity, in a way the the EF doesn’t.

    Here’s how to do the NO “properly”:

    1. NEVER use any Canon except EP1, The Roman Canon;
    2. Use the original Latin version, at least some of the time;
    3. No routine use of EMHC’s – EMHC’s really should be extraordinary, say when the priest is infirm and cannot himself distribute holy communion to all who wish to receive it;
    4. If capable musicians and singers are available, sing the Ordinary of the Mass in plainsong settings, in Latin.
    5. If lay readers are to read the first and second readings and the psalm, ensure they are appropriately trained and that they prepare & practise their readings properly. If competent lay readers are unavailable, the readings should be read by the priest/deacon.
    6. Avoid most modern hymns/songs – basically anything composed since Vatican II – and use traditional hymns. The trite charismatic ditties we are regrettably familiar with should be banished to the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth!!

  16. ocleirbj says:

    We had a priest who used to adlib “Behold the Lamb of God”. It was always something from his (always over-long) homily, in the same style as the adlibbed “Ita misse est” reported above. Teeth were regularly being gnashed in the pew … He came here from another diocese, and all the priests in our diocese must have been well-trained when the new translation came in, because I haven’t heard any of them struggle with the words, or change any of them, or even complain of them to us.

    But other than that, I have never disliked the NO, even when badly celebrated with dreadful music. One’s own language speaks to the heart in a way that other languages don’t always manage, even a loved language like Latin (and I love Latin). But God speaks English to me, and that’s the language in which I respond to Him best. And always, always, at the moment of consecration, it’s Jesus being right there for me, and for all those present, regardless of the language. However I may have complained up until then, it all falls away in that short, beautiful, endless moment of communion. God is good :-)

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