Institutionalizing Dissent

INSTITUTIONALIZING DISSENT

Although the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have undertaken the reform of the liturgy in very different ways over the last 50 years or so, we now face similar problems of disaffection with the new.

While Rome is encouraging (if I hear it correctly) the co-existence of old rites alongside the new, Anglicans have long been familiar with a Sunday pattern of services which maintains parallel tracks of liturgical practice, both traditional and contemporary, side by side. Cody Unterseher describes this pattern on his posting ‘Living with Diversity’, and it may be instructive to take a closer look at the early celebration in Anglican practice. Might this offer a way forward of relevance to others?

In the Anglican context ‘the 8 o’clock’ early Mass every Sunday is deeply entrenched and fiercely defended.  Following the production of new Eucharistic rites in 1979 (USA) and 1980 and 2000 (UK), the 8 o’clock has in most places become a gathering of those who want to pretend that reform never happened. In perpetuating this anachronism we have succeeded in institutionalising dissent.

The attractions of the 8 o’clock are predictable. Its archaic language perpetuates the notion that God is one step removed from everyday life, kept safely in his antique Tudor box; you can sit where you like, at a guaranteed safe distance from your neighbour; you can kneel (or more accurately crouch) with no fear of being asked to stand to pray, or to form a circle; there is no danger of having to acknowledge the presence of other Christians, let alone touch them; there is a very good chance that you will avoid a homily (even though Cranmer mandated this); there is no requirement to sing or look cheerful; and there is no danger at all of being required to socialize after the service, or  being asked to do anything – to sign up, to volunteer, to take part.

Teresa Berger in her posting ‘The Journey is One’ reminds us that each particular journey we make is part of the journey of life, the journey home to God. The Sunday liturgy of the gathered assembly is, at its best, a powerful reminder, and indeed facilitator, of that journey in which we walk as fellow pilgrims.

The persistence of the phenomenon of the 8 o’clock is indicative of a mindset which has not just rejected modern liturgical language or form, but has decided to step aside from that journey.  The love of archaic language is a small sign of a bigger picture – of an attitude of heart and mind that wants no truck with today, either in the Church or in the world. It seeks reassurance not adventure.

Ironically, the 8 o’clock early celebration was originally intended for the benefit of the most devout and  committed, providing them with the only regular opportunity to receive holy communion, because up to the early 20th century the main service of the day in most parishes was either (non-eucharistic) sung Morning Prayer, or a non-communicating High Mass.

The 8 o’clock was there for the keenest members of the faith community who, having made their communion, would usually return for the later service(s) also. Only with the advent of the Parish Communion Movement in the 1930s was a people’s communicating Mass  gradually established as the main service of the day in the vast majority of English parishes, as also in North America.

The original purpose of the 8 o’clock was thereby made redundant, and yet it continued. Such is the way of humankind.  With the coming of new liturgical forms from the 1960s onwards, those who had no wish to be caught up in any ‘new fangled’ major gathering of the assembly, with all the interaction that entailed, seized upon the 8 o’clock and made it a safe haven protected from the seas of change. The phrase ‘making  my communion’ gave the game away; this was no participation in the rites of the Church but a private deal with God.

From being an opportunity for giving something extra, the 8 o’clock became an occasion for avoiding the demands of what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ. Indeed the discontinuance of the 8 o’clock has, in my experience, been a first necessary step in the task of renewing parish life, launching the community on a sometimes painful but always fruitful process of determining afresh the nature of our life together and the shape of our worship and our path ahead.

Although the 8 o’clock is of course a peculiarly Anglican phenomenon, it seems that Rome also is moving in the same direction of a duality of rites, and no doubt in due course a variety of provisions will be made to cater for those who wish to be involved only distantly with the on-going journey and exploration of the Church.

Whatever our strategies for keeping on board, however loosely, those who stand aside from the mainstream, the question remains: do such measures represent  a permissible freedom, a generous sign of comprehensiveness, or an avoidance of the holy task of wrestling with our differences and coming to a common mind? Is allowing two kinds of rite – one traditional one contemporary in language – to continue side by side in the same book, in the same parish, a justifiable and honourable path of unity-in-diversity, or a cop-out, an exercise in self indulgence?

Perhaps it is not too late for others to learn from our mistakes?

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35 comments

  1. In the Catholic situation, as far as I can tell, there are two types of people who like to attend the Extraordinary Form–the minority consists of those who wish that there had been no change at all in the mass during the 1960’s and the majority are those who take issue with the reforms made under the pretext of Vatican II or seek refuge from churches where liturgical abuse openly takes place. They may or may not attend such services every week. The second group, the majority, is in no way avoiding “the holy task of wrestling with our differences.” Moreover, Rome’s relaxation of rules concerning the celebration of the Extraordinary Form was as much for priests as it was for the laity.

  2. Fr. Giles,

    I would have thought that, as an Anglican, you would subscribe to the “no windows on men’s (and women’s) souls” approach that Elizabeth I is purported to have had.

    I am sure that this was not your intention, but this post makes rather massive presumptions about the level of faith and Christian commitment of those who might love archaic language and might not like a particular liturgical style (one that you happen to favor). Such presumptions are both dangerous and demeaning.

    In my own (RC) parish we have two Masses for the Lord’s Day: one on Saturday at 4:00 PM and one on Sunday at 10:30 AM. I was always a “10:30 person” who attended the Mass with lots of socializing before and after (and sometimes during), lots of music, lasting and hour and a quarter, etc. My presumption was that those at the 4:00 Mass — where there was no music, the atmosphere was quite subdued, and people were in and out in 45 minutes — were those who’s only interest was in fulfilling their Sunday obligation in the quickest and most convenient way possible.

    Since ordination to the diaconate, I have found myself ministering to parishioners who attend both Masses and have found, to my shame, that my presumptions were ignorant, arrogant, and just plain foolish. I have learned that people who attend the 4:00 Mass come to that Mass for a variety of reasons, including for some a desire for a liturgy that is quieter, with less socializing and more time for private prayer. I have also learned that many of those same people are quite involved in the life of the parish is ways that I had not noticed, largely because they were not people who went to “my” Mass. They engage in tasks ranging from helping to repair and maintain the fabric of the building to serving on the parish finance committee and pastoral council to volunteering in our parish soup kitchen. They care deeply about the parish, about their Catholic faith, and about their fellow parishioners. And their commitment is nourished by the rather staid and traditional liturgy that they attend faithfully each week.

    I had hoped that this blog would provide a counterbalance to the NLM blog, where some posters and (especially) commentators absolutize one style of liturgy and show contempt for those who do not share their enthusiasms. I am afraid that this post strikes me as a “progressive” version of the same attitude.

  3. F.C. Bauerschmidt wrote:

    I have learned that people who attend the 4:00 Mass come to that Mass for a variety of reasons, including for some a desire for a liturgy that is quieter, with less socializing and more time for private prayer.

    Anyone who is looking for more time for private prayer is, I am afraid, barking up the wrong tree. There’s nothing private about what we do at liturgy, which is by definition both public and communal. Personal, certainly, but not private.

    The failure to understand this distinction between our own private prayers and the church’s public and communal worship is a major factor in the disagreements that take place today. The mediaeval aberration which led to liturgy as an action done by the priest alone while the faithful had no other recourse than to their own private prayers and devotions was precisely what the post-Vatican II reforms were attempting to remedy.

    Nevertheless some persist in viewing liturgy as an opportunity for doing their own praying. Such liturgical assemblies are in reality no more than a collection of individuals who happen to be in the same room on the occasion of the church’s public worship. Those individuals seem not to want to be part of the Church’s prayer, but only of their own prayers, while others ‘get on with’ the liturgy. They appear not to subscribe to the theology that the Church at prayer is the Body of Christ made incarnate in this time and in this place, and that all members of that Body are asked to work together in the common enterprise of the Church’s worship.

    I think the phenomenon that Richard Giles describes so well is the Anglican parallel manifestation of this misunderstanding of the difference between private prayer and public liturgy.

    There is of course nothing at all wrong with private prayers and devotions. They are as necessary as the Church’s public liturgy, and both should feed each other; but it’s when they overlap that the problems arise. An inadequate simile would be of some people who are supposed to be part of the team but who are actually playing solitaire while everyone else is involved in the communal sport. The fact is that there’s a time and a place for everything. We just need to be clear what that time is.

    Somehow we have to find a way of bridging the gaps between these different modes of prayer so that the spirituality of everyone is incorporated in a way that enables the community to flourish in its fullness.

    1. I think the phenomenon of ritual worship is something rather more complex than can be neatly segregated into “this is private” and “this is public.” When there is a period of silence following communion, is this private or public? Well, it’s both. Is Eucharistic adoration private or public? Again, it’s both. So I guess I’m not entirely convinced that there is a time and place for a everything, if by that you mean a neat segregation of that which is public and that which is private.

      Also I would think that the work of scholars like John Bossy, Eamon Duffy and Augustine Thompson would have put to rest the canard that worship in the Middle Ages was not profoundly communal — indeed, communal in a way that we modern people who jabber on endlessly about community can scarcely imagine.

      1. I think that your desire not to make the distinction between public and private is wise. To be sure, Sacrosanctum Concilium refers to St. Cyprian, “Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the ‘sacrament of unity,’ namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops,” (26) On the other hand, the same document also states, “And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence,” (30). This silent time is surely meant for private reflection, prayer, and meditation. I don’t think that people who want additional silence can really be charged with seeming “not to want to be part of the Church’s prayer” as Paul Inwood says. That’s not a fair or accurate assessment. I would also add that such silence helps one’s participation to be more conscious, a goal of the Vatican II reforms.

  4. ROFLMAO!!

    Just yesterday in considering Fr. Unterseher’s worthy piece, I wrote the following line: “[In some places it seems that t]he early Rite I Mass is explicitly for the “old folks” and the assumption and hope is that this demographic and the service will die out together.”

    So nice to have that erroneous prejudice confirmed in writing the very next day…

  5. This article made me sick. Not content with having already forced most Anglicans who love both traditional choral music and traditional liturgical language to choose between them, you want to eliminate any traditional option at all. How cruel can you be? I thank God that I am fortunate enough to be able to attend an Episcopal parish where ALL services in the main church (we also have a “contemporary” option in a separate chapel) are conducted in the gloriously archaic English of Rite I, including the main 11:15 Choral Eucharist. As a proud member of the Facebook group “Rite II Makes Baby Jesus Cry,” I will NEVER accept anything else, and I will NEVER say “and also with you.” Real Anglicans respond, “and with thy spirit.”

    I don’t want a “quiet” early service with no music (though I think people who do should be able to have it, as they do at my parish), I want a late-morning elaborate choral high mass in Elizabethan English with the choir singing copious amounts of Latin, preferably including a choral setting of the Ordinary with congregational singing limited to hymns. I would stay at home on Sunday mornings clutching my 1662 BCP rather than accept a contemporary-language service. If I were Roman Catholic it would be the Latin Mass or nothing. You’re damn right, as a reactionary monarchist I HATE the 20th century and I don’t want anything to do with its idiotic trends and ideologies, including those that have so woefully affected liturgical worship.

  6. With all due respect: malarkey!

    If this is an example of your patronizing attitude towards your parishioners, no wonder they choose to go to a service where they don’t have to hear you preach.

    Has it occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, they go to that service because they find the liturgy more beautiful? Maybe it’s not a sign of spiritual inferiority, but a matter of preferring traditional liturgy.

  7. Definitely, I am one of those who “seek refuge from churches were liturgical abuse openly takes place.” We would not have all this liturgical turmoil had Vatican II’s directives been religiously followed and “organically” implemented. It never ceases to astound how learned church people accept and defend the clowns, puppets, balloons, illicit “ministers,” etc., at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Whose fault is it that Catholic faithful must now choose between ineffable and pedestrian?

  8. William Henry wrote:

    It never ceases to astound how learned church people accept and defend the clowns, puppets, balloons, illicit “ministers,” etc., at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    This is legend, and needs to be challenged, I fear.

    In the late 1960s/early 1970s, certainly experiments of this kind took place in a few places, rather in the same way as unorthodox liturgical experiments have taken place in most centuries, as history demonstrates. But to imply that this kind of thing is current in everyday liturgies today is untrue. It simply doesn’t happen ─ except in Rome, where you can encounter almost any liturgical abuse you can imagine, almost on the Vatican’s doorstep.

    Learned church people do not accept clowns, puppets, balloons and other gimmicks, any more than unlearned people.

    The task before us now is to promote organic development based on sound liturgical principles. Pillorying 40-year-old isolated instances of excesses as if they were typical of current praxis is not helpful in this task.

    1. St. Monica’s church in Santa Monica, California. Puppets at the homily in the early 90’s. I was there. It’s not a legend. It wasn’t even a children’s mass!

    2. Challenge away, Paul. When our new pastor arrived 7 years ago he was challenged with correcting 12 liturgical abuses and one Canon Law violation.

      How do you promote “organic development” when the liturgical train has already come off the rails? Do you go back to the start? Or do you go back to the point where the journey took a wrong turn.

      I’d guess the latter.

  9. What Mr Inwood calls a “legend” is an everyday experience for far too many faithful Catholics.

    At my local parish, the pastor ends every Mass during a certain part of the year with, “The Mass is ended; go in peace. And GO EAGLES!!!” (The Eagles being the local American football franchise.)

    My guess would be that, for this one anecdote, there are thousands more, and many of those are probably much worse. The liturgical landscape in the U.S. is a desert, and this situation will likely only be remedied with the passage of time.

  10. Ioannes Andreades wrote:

    On the other hand, the same document also states, “And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence,” (30). This silent time is surely meant for private reflection, prayer, and meditation. I don’t think that people who want additional silence can really be charged with seeming “not to want to be part of the Church’s prayer” as Paul Inwood says. That’s not a fair or accurate assessment. I would also add that such silence helps one’s participation to be more conscious, a goal of the Vatican II reforms.

    I am absolutely in agreement with you that there is not nearly enough silence in our liturgical celebrations. Where I part company with you is when you say (and it’s your opinion, not the Church’s) that this time is surely meant for private reflection, prayer and meditation. If you had said personal rather than private, then I would agree with you. It’s the “private” aspect which I would debate.

    “Private” acts are those which belong to me alone. By definition, others are excluded. That is not what ought to be happening at liturgical celebrations. We should be praying together, worshipping together, meditating together.

    Anyone who has been to Taizé and experienced the lengthy (up to 10 minutes) silences will know exactly what I am talking about here. There is certainly no impression that all are occupied in private, silent prayer. Rather, there is a profound impression that everyone is praying silently together in the light of what has just happened in the celebration. The silence is so dense and so powerful that you can almost touch it. As many as 3,000+ people all praying in silence, but together, for as long as 10 minutes. In my view, we should experience this sort of thing much more frequently than we do.

    Let me give another example, one that is very common in our churches today. At the end of the general intercessions, the reader will often say “Let us now pray for a while in silence for our own intentions”. (Sometimes, they even say “private intentions”.) I always have to stop myself from standing up and shouting “No!”, because I believe that this is absolutely not what we are being asked to do at this point in the rite. What we should be doing is praying for all the intentions that others have asked us to pray for, not for our own self-centred concerns. Those concerns will be prayed for by everyone else. This is how the intercessions become “general” rather than “private”. Everyone present prays actively and specifically for all the things that are occupying the minds of everyone else, not for their own needs. This is the essence of communal liturgical worship, as opposed to a collection of private individuals who happen to be “doing their own thing” simultaneously. It does make a difference.

    And if we understood this, and if we were asked to pray for all the things that other people have asked us to pray for, the silence that would ensue would be considerably longer than the paltry 5-7 seconds that most presiders allow before they break in with the concluding prayer. But that is probably the subject of another thread.

    1. I guess I don’t see the fundamental difference between private and personal prayer at these moments. To the extent that I don’t mean to exclude others, I’ll go along with you that private might not be completely apt. I don’t pray the rosary during these times, but I do pray for my own needs. I pray that the Eucharist will give me strength to be a good husband, father, teacher. I thank God for my job, my house, and His blessings. None of this strikes me as antithetical to the mass.

      I used to attend Taize prayer regularly, and I have to admit that I’m not sure that I would exclude the word private as a description of what took place during the moments of silence. Maybe not the first word.

    2. At the end of the general intercessions, the reader will often say “Let us now pray for a while in silence for our own intentions”. (Sometimes, they even say “private intentions”.) I always have to stop myself from standing up and shouting “No!”, because I believe that this is absolutely not what we are being asked to do at this point in the rite.
      —————————–

      I agree – partly. This jarring break for private intentions also drives me crazy – not only because it’s not appropriate, but the audible direction, “Let us pray for…” just seems so contrived and artificial. In the traditional liturgy, this time to pray for others happens in silence, yet allows for individual concerns. The “Commemoration of the Living” can be paused at for a few moments if you’d like. The bells at the start of the consecration will snap you back a minute later. Likewise, you can speed up your internal reading a bit and get to the “Commemoration of the Dead” if you want a bit more time with that – all without disrupting anyone else. The priest’s audible “Nobis quoque” signals it’s time to move on. These times of short individual petitions for others while the people of God are assembled along with the saints and the host of heaven are priceless and when they flow so effortlessly in silence, it’s like dancing with a great partner rather than a dance instructor telling you what to do.

      Your idea, if I understand you correctly, that “Communal liturgical worship” means that “Everyone present prays actively and specifically for all the things that are occupying the minds of everyone else” is what I take exception to. If everyone is praying for the concerns of everyone else then nobody is praying for anything. At the two spots in the traditional rite I just mentioned, the instruction in the missal is “prays in particular for those he wishes to remember”.

      1. This jarring break for private intentions also drives me crazy – not only because it’s not appropriate, but the audible direction, “Let us pray for…” just seems so contrived and artificial.

        Then you should see the fun when the priest asks us to voice our intentions. One Christmas we were singing a response to the prayer of the faithful that was somewhat lengthy and there were no fewer than 15 private intentions offered. We were there an extra 10 minutes.

  11. “Its archaic language perpetuates the notion that God is one step removed from everyday life”

    As He is, in the sense that He is not our ‘homeboy’ or ‘buddy’

    “…kept safely in his antique Tudor box”

    I fail to see that this is a helpful comment or indicative of the way such people feel about the matter.

    “you can sit where you like”

    You mean you can’t sit where you like at othe liturgies??

    “…at a guaranteed safe distance from your neighbour”

    See point #2 above.

    “you can kneel… with no fear of being asked to stand to pray, or to form a circle… there is no requirement to sing or look cheerful; and there is no danger at all of being required to socialize after the service, or being asked to do anything – to sign up, to volunteer, to take part.”

    Sounds like Heaven. I despise being told to ‘do’ all sorts of ‘stuff’ when I come to worship God.

    And no less a Christian than C.S. Lewis hated parish bunfights as well.

  12. Mr. Inwood, you have a good point on personal vs. private prayer.

    As to liturgical desecration, there circulated a Youtube video not long ago featuring a priest celebrating Mass in the chapel of a US Catholic university, wearing a Mickey Mouse hat at the processional (probably intended to mock birettas) and using a water gun for the Asperges. So this kind of thing is certainly not over and done with. And I think those episodes that are documented are only the tip of the iceberg.

    At the bottom, we have more insiduous stuff like my own pastor who banters away at the beginning of Mass about how nice it is to see us and he hopes we have a good Mass and a nice Sunday but the other priest is ill and today we’re celebrating the Feast of St. James and people go on pilgrimage to Santiago and they have a really big thurible there but he didn’t really go to Spain but it’s nice to think his body somehow got there and isn’t the new Marian altar nice?

    Blech.

  13. This piece shows the same lack of pastoral insight that I find at Novus Motus Liturgicus. There are two simple solutions to this problem that will maintain what is a developing canonical approach to our prayers: Use Rite I occasionally in services other than the early service and/or have the central prayers placed in contemporary English and authorized for use. This piece, however, practically villifies a rich part of our liturgical-theological heritage and those who are strengthened for renewal by it. It makes judgments about their living out their vocations as laypersons in daily life and is ironically incredibly clericalist in two ways: 1) suggesting that real lay life is about doing things in church after Holy Communion, 2) presumes that clergy should go about making changes with no consideration of God’s people. Common prayer, and yes, that includes Rite I, prevents this sort of clergy-centered tendency to tyranny to changes in our liturgical lives together. It’s our book and prayers also.

  14. The author here faults the liturgical conservative with absenting himself from the life of the community, the journey of the Church, the adventure of the Christian pilgrimage through history. If he were referring to those who absolutize old forms because they are old, then he’s got a good point. But that’s not what’s happening here. For him, it seems, innovation is a virtue in itself, especially when he refers to what he calls the “always fruitful process of determining afresh the nature of our life together and the shape of our worship and our path ahead.”
    Do we have the right to determine what it is to live together as Christians, and how we ought to worship God? Didn’t the founding events of Christianity determine these things, thereby constituting for us the Christian Way, as opposed to other ways we might follow? (and making us a Christian people as opposed to being a people of another kind?) The Christian journey is on a specific path and has a fixed goal. The goal is not the journey itself; it’s not an indifferent matter how we journey so long as we’re actually journeying.
    It is this true vision of Christian history which draws so many people today to traditional forms of liturgy – it’s not always (nor even primarily) nostalgia or fear.

  15. I’ve collected myself and would like to offer a more thoughtful response…

    The case that the author is trying to make is that when the ’79 BCP came out, there were certain people who refused to accept those reforms. Those people were then placated with an early service where, in the author’s opinion, they could pretend the reforms had not happened and did not exist. These 7:30/8 AM Eucharists thus became the “Institutionalized Dissent” where the Episcopal Church mistakenly allowed the recalcitrant to maintain their delusions.

    That’s the argument I see being put forward. But there’s a serious flaw with it, and it’s this—the BCP is 30 years old. The Reforms have happened and the reforms have been deeply embedded in the culture of the Episcopal Church. The ’79 BCP has succeeded so well that it has almost inadvertently stamped out the venerable Anglican practice of Choral Morning Prayer that could (and perhaps should) happen in concert with the Principal Eucharist.

    I’m 35. I know *nothing* except the new environment. To put a finer point on it, I grew up Lutheran with the LBW (Green Book) that itself taught the same reforms as the ’79 BCP and the Novus Ordo. When I moved to the Episcopal Church 10 years ago it was strictly into a ’79 BCP environment. And yet I find that I and many others my age have a love for Rite I. Fopr those of us who grew up in the most media manipulated culture ever, we’re looking for something with integrity and authenticity. If I can find that–and a healthy does of poetry–in the language of Rite I, why is that a problem?

    What I see in many of the Roman fans of the NLM and the usus antiquor is the same. The Reform is already in their bones! They’ve never known a time where the mass wasn’t in the vernacular! They are not the same opponents you faced in the post-conciliar years and if you treat them as such you will fail by dint of your own refusal to listen and understand what it is that they are hungering for.

  16. Paul Inwood’s remarks about silence are a reflection of his profound understanding of the following passage in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

    45. Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts.

    [emphasis added]

    The ten silences of the General Instruction can be elaborated thus:

    1. before the celebration, for disposing oneself for the celebration
    2. at the penitential rite, for recalling one’s need for mercy and one’s experience of mercy
    3. at the collect, for recalling the reasons why one has come to this Eucharistic celebration
    4. at the beginning of the liturgy of the word, to dispose oneself to hear
    5. after each reading and after the homily, to receive what one has heard
    6. during the universal prayer, to pray on behalf of the church, the world, for those in special need, and for the local community, as invited by the intentionist
    7. during the preparation of the gifts, to prepare to offer oneself and all of one’s life
    8. during the eucharistic prayer, to lift up one’s hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving and to join oneself with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of sacrifice
    9. during the communion rite, to fruitfully receive Christ’s Body and Blood
    10. after communion, to choose to be in communion with Christ and to receive the full effects of communion

    Here are the references:

    43. . . . while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed. [see also 164]

    Silence

    45[23]. Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times.54 Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts.

    Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.

    51[29]. Then the priest invites those present to take part in the Act of Penitence, which, after a brief pause for silence, the entire community carries out through a formula of general confession. . . .

    55[33]. The main part of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings from Sacred Scripture together with the chants occurring between them. The homily, Profession of Faith, and Prayer of the Faithful, however, develop and conclude this part of the Mass. For in the readings, as explained by the homily, God speaks to his people,58 opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation and offering them spiritual nourishment; and Christ himself is present in the midst of the faithful through his word.59 By their silence and singing the people make God’s word their own, and they also affirm their adherence to it by means of the Profession of Faith. Finally, having been nourished by it, they pour out their petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful for the needs of the entire Church and for the salvation of the whole world.

    Silence

    56. The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to promote meditation, and so any sort of haste that hinders recollection must clearly be avoided. During the Liturgy of the Word, it is also appropriate to include brief periods of silence, accommodated to the gathered assembly, in which, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the word of God may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared. It may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the first and second reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the homily.60

    66. . . . After the homily a brief period of silence is appropriately observed. [see also 136]

    71[47]. It is for the priest celebrant to direct this prayer from the chair. He himself begins it with a brief introduction, by which he invites the faithful to pray, and likewise he concludes it with a prayer. The intentions announced should be sober, be composed freely but prudently, and be succinct, and they should express the prayer of the entire community.

    The intentions are announced from the ambo or from another suitable place, by the deacon or by a cantor, a lector, or one of the lay faithful.68

    The people, however, stand and give expression to their prayer either by {sive} an invocation said together after each intention or {sive; this is a disjunction: whether . . . or} by praying in silence.

    78. Now the center and summit of the entire celebration begins: namely, the Eucharistic Prayer, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The priest invites the people to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he unites the congregation with himself in the prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the meaning of the Prayer is that the entire congregation of the faithful should join itself with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. The Eucharistic Prayer demands that all listen to it with reverence and in silence. {Significant deletion from 1975: eandem vero participant per acclamations in ipso rito praevisas: “but also to take part through the acclamations for which the rite makes provision.”}

    [but see the following]
    147. Then the priest begins the Eucharistic Prayer. In accordance with the rubrics (cf. below, no. 365), he selects a Eucharistic Prayer from those found in the Roman Missal or approved by the Apostolic See. The Eucharistic Prayer demands, by its very nature, that the priest say it in virtue of his ordination. The people, for their part, should associate themselves with the priest in faith and in silence, as well as through their parts as prescribed in the course of the Eucharistic Prayer: namely the responses in the Preface dialogue, the Sanctus, the acclamation after the consecration, the acclamatory Amen after the final doxology, as well as other acclamations approved by the Conference of Bishops and recognized by the Holy See.

    84[56f]. The priest prepares himself by a prayer, said quietly, that he may fruitfully receive Christ’s Body and Blood. The faithful do the same, praying silently.

    127[89]. The priest then invites the people to pray, saying, with hands joined, Oremus (Let us pray). All pray silently with the priest for a brief time. Then the priest, with hands extended, says the Collect, at the end of which the people make the acclamation, Amen.

    128. After the Collect, all sit. The priest may, very briefly, introduce the faithful to the Liturgy of the Word. Then the lector goes to the ambo and, from the Lectionary already placed there before Mass, proclaims the first reading, to which all listen. At the end, the lector says the acclamation Verbum Domini (The word of the Lord), and all respond, Deo gratias (Thanks be to God).

    Then, as appropriate, a few moments of silence may be observed so that all may meditate on what they have heard.

    129. Then the psalmist or even a lector proclaims the verses of the Psalm and the people sing or say the response as usual.

    130. If there is to be a second reading before the Gospel, the lector proclaims it from the ambo. All listen and at the end respond to the acclamation, as noted above (cf. no. 128). Then, as appropriate, a few moments of silence may be observed.

    165. Then, standing at the chair or at the altar and facing the people the priest, with hands joined says, Oremus (Let us pray); then, with hands extended, he recites the prayer after Communion. A brief period of silence may precede the prayer, unless this has been already observed immediately after Communion. At the end of the prayer the people say the acclamation, Amen.

  17. It would be a seriously deluded individual who would call egregious liturgical abuses “legend”… they are very real. I would venture to propose that in ANY given place in the US (maybe the UK is liturgically stoic…who knows) you would be no more than 1/2 hour from antics of this sort on a Sunday morning. I’ve experienced them in at least 3 churches in my own town in Florida….puppet homilies…dressed up priests…skits during homilies…lighting effects w/recorded music during homilies… and that’s in parishes in one town! Get online and look at bulletins from parishes at random…it’s incredible what you’ll find. Perhaps such things don’t seem abusive to some.

  18. I’m not sure on what the objection to skits or puppets during the homily stans. The purpose of the homily is didactic – to break open the scriptural readings and make them accessible for the congregation. Surely anything (well, mostly anything) that accomplishes this purpose for a given congregation is acceptable. At any rate, I can’t see that these things during the homily are on the same level as such antics during the other parts of the Mass.

  19. Surely, when the fathers of Vatican II sought to reintroduce a regular homily, it was the traditional understanding of what a homily was, not an “anything goes” affair:
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07448a.htm
    Moreover, the homily “is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself,” (S.C. 52). To relax standards during the homily would hinder the identification of the homily’s integral part in the liturgy.

  20. What does the 1910 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia tell us about the intentions of Vatican II? At any rate, there’s ample evidence for the use of drama (skits) in Church during the Middle Ages, isn’t there – not to mention St Francis’ introduction of the use of the creche during the Christmas Mass?

  21. When the council fathers demanded the restoration of homilies, what was it exactly they were demanding? If you can come up with a widely received definition of homily written closer to 1963, I’d be interested. The word homily meant something to the council fathers. You just can’t just make it mean whatever you want it to mean. That’s being a semantic sociopath.

    I’d also be interested in hearing more about drama in church and what kind of precedence there is for doing so during mass. I’m aware that religious and moral dramas existed in the middle ages and performed in church during the Divine Office. I’m unaware of their accepted use during mass. According to Laszlo Dobszay, one of the problems of the Tridentine reform was that it summarily excluded some of the development in the liturgy within the couple centuries immediately before Trent no matter how widespread, organic, or appropriate. The Tridentine reform institutionalized the mass as celebrated in the papal court. By that time, more developments older than the cut-off, such as the creche, were permitted.

    I’m interested in appropriate liturgical development, but puppet shows? Puppet shows?

  22. I agree with Theodore Harvey (#7). This post makes me sick. The condescension and totalitarian leanings of Richard Giles would make Henry VIII blush. Certainly I can see his desire for a unified church that worships as one. It’s one of the reasons I became Catholic (little did I know at that time of the bitter liturgical divisions). Where he goes wrong is in wanting to stamp out the traditional form of worship. It’s only an arrogant modern mind that could say someone’s desire for time-honored, dignified worship handed down from much more spiritual ages than ours is “an occasion for avoiding the demands of what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ”. Those who would rather achieve unity by doing away with the newer forms have a much stronger leg to stand on. If one believes that a serious break from what has been transmitted to the 20th century has taken place over the last forty years due to disobedience or cultural influences (a distinct possibility in our spoiled, liberal age), then is it so hard to understand someone thinking that maybe the remedy is to go back, at least temporarily, to the place before the derailment happened. I do understand his discomfort at two forms of the same rite, but it seems to me if you’re going to throw out one, it would be safer to toss the one that hasn’t stood the test of time.

  23. Paul Inwood wrote (#15)
    At the end of the general intercessions, the reader will often say “Let us now pray for a while in silence for our own intentions”. (Sometimes, they even say “private intentions”.) I always have to stop myself from standing up and shouting “No!”, because I believe that this is absolutely not what we are being asked to do at this point in the rite.
    ————————-

    I agree – partly. This jarring break for private intentions also drives me crazy – not only because it’s not appropriate, but the audible direction, “Let us pray for…” just seems so contrived and artificial. In the traditional liturgy, this time to pray for others happens in silence and allows for individual concerns. The “Commemoration of the Living” can be paused at for a few moments if you have a pressing concern. The bells at the start of the consecration will snap you back a minute later. Likewise, you can speed up your internal reading a bit and get to the “Commemoration of the Dead” if you want a bit more time with that – all without disrupting anyone else. The priest’s audible “Nobis quoque” signals it’s time to move on. These times of short individual petitions for others while the people of God are assembled along with the saints and the host of heaven are priceless and when they flow so effortlessly in silence, it’s like dancing with a great partner rather than a dance instructor telling you what to do.

    Your idea, if I understand you correctly, that “Communal liturgical worship” means that “Everyone present prays actively and specifically for all the things that are occupying the minds of everyone else” is what I take exception to. If everyone is praying for the concerns of everyone else then nobody is praying for anything. At the two spots in the traditional rite I just mentioned, the instruction in the missal is “prays in particular for those he wishes to remember”.

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