From the Bishop of Covington, Kentucky

Bishop’s pastoral letter, long story short: follow the rule book, and stop holding hands for the Our Father.

Ipsissimis verbis: 2011 Pastoral Letter with Decree Bulletin Insert.

Hmmm, if people can no longer extend their hands for the Our Father because the Missale Romanum states only that the priest does so, then what about the announcement of the Gospel Reading? The missal mentions only the deacon (or priest) signing himself on the forehead, lips, and breast, but the laity began doing the same ages ago. Is this too an abuse to stamp out?

awr

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82 comments

  1. FWIW, the crossing of the forehead, mouth, and breast is noted in the GIRM:

    134. At the ambo, the priest […] says, Lectio sancti Evangelii (A reading from the holy gospel), making the sign of the cross with his thumb on the book and on his forehead, mouth, and breast, which everyone else does as well.

    1. I stand corrected! Thanks, Jeffrey. No one has a sharper eye for the documents than you.

      So if the GIRM eventually changed to allow for the practice the people gradually adopted, couldn’t that also happen with orans position for the Our Father someday?

      awr

      1. Actually, a good argument can be made that the rubric for the Our Father – the priest in the orans posture – is wrong. It’s the only place in the Mass where the Priest takes the orans position while reciting a prayer with the people. Maybe MR4 will get it right and specify hands together for all.

  2. Do misanthropes make better leaders?

    If anyone showed up at our parish and told us to stop holding hands or gesturing, boy would we rise up righteous…

  3. What a good example of a letter of the law (legalism) mentality at its worst!. Does he really think he can control and forbid people to hold hands or extend them in the orans position? Another issue to drive people away! Isn’t there something in Canon Law about a long standing custom out weighing a particular law? I have heard bishops make slight changes in the wording of the Mass at times and limiting the strophes of the penitential rite to whats in the book seems an unnecessary restriction on the minimal freedom presiders and deacons are given. I suspect many priests will use their own common sense and judgment on these and some other issues like the problem with the Prayer after Communion of the first Sunday of Advent and the Preface that contains the phrase “Through Christ our Lord” in the beginning to which all automatically respond “Amen” as they are cued to do.

    1. I can just imagine the places where most, if not all of these
      directives, will be totally ignored by clergy and laity alike, especially the ruling on the use of the “orans”.

      The whole tone of this “decree” is an open invitation to Catholic folk to stop paying to, obeying, and praying within churches in the
      Covington diocese.

  4. So sad that a bishop finds it important to serve his people by use of decrees. I guess people should no longer fold their hands when approaching for Communion, since folded hands are not mandated by the GIRM. Also, do the rubrics really rule out invocations for the third penitential rite that are not found in the Missal? The rubrics say that “other” invocations may be used, then the reader is referred to the Appendix where “sample” invocations may be found. “Sample” suggests to me that invocations other than those in the Missal may be used. That we would need to ask such questions and interpret such decrees from a local church is a serious indication that the age of rubricism is returning with a galop.

  5. I had my doubts and downright negative feelings about the new missal, although pleasantly surprised.

    The bishop acknowledges that for some people this is a period of anxiety. Maybe he should have waited a period of time until people get adjusted to the new liturgy before springing this upon them.

  6. With all due respect to his apostolic office, this bishop is in serious need of a sphincter relaxer.

    (And now, having said this, I am hoping I am never in a position of having to ask him to be incardinated into his diocese. Oh well, quod scripsi scripsi).

    I am sure the bishop thinks of himself as very liturgically “traditional,” but I cannot imagine anything more modern than the desire to regulate the behavior of the laity at worship.

    I say, rip out all the pews and let the people of God roam around at will — lighting candles at shrines, crossing themselves and bowing and extending their hands as the Spirit moves them, maybe even stepping out for a smoke — except, of course, when a burly loud-mouthed deacon calls them to attention for some important bit of magic.

    Now that’s traditional liturgy.

      1. Are they the same reforms which gave bishops’ conferences the responsibility of producing their own translations and which gave to the Vatican the role of granting them the recognitio?
        That was before the Congregation for Divine Mercy and the Sacraments under Pinochet’s associate reversed the relationship set in place by the ecumenical council. And the bishops observed an eloquent and telling silence.

    1. Fritz, I’m so down with that! (Is it bad for someone sixty to say “down with”?)
      Most “trad” liturgy evah fo me. Three hour Orthodox in Vladimir, USSR, May 1988. No burly deacon shouting, plenty of burly deacons. It was like being within the cells of a sensory enriched amoeba, churling and churning, with four choirs from various locales, including behind the iconostasis and from somewhere nebulous above as I couldn’t “see” upstairs literally. Was packed with babushka ladies lighting tapirs, constant deep, throaty chanting….
      Heaven in the heartland of Lenin.
      Oh, and it was Wednesday afternoon.
      Kept wondering: we could do THIS. WE COULD DO THIS.

      1. Was packed with babushka ladies lighting tapirs

        Since Benedict XVI is leading us to be a more environmentally friendly Church, setting endangered mammals on fire would probably not be recommended.

      2. We absolutely need creative and inculturated liturgy, we are asphyxiated without it; scrap all our current texts and rething Eucharist from Scripture, using the resources of modern culture.

  7. I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to finally squash out the ridiculous holding of hands at the Our Father. It drove me away from the Church for several years. I knew it was improper, or at least did not make any sense… and yet, I was made to feel guilty if I dared to interrupt the human chain.

    However, this bishop’s declaration against it makes no sense. “No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.” Umm… huh? _No gesture is prescribed._ Unfortunately, that’s not equivalent to “no gesture is permitted”. In theory, one could pat their head and rub their tummy if one wanted to, and had the coordination to do it.

    I would truly like to see the hand-holding eliminated. But how about a legitimate, sensible reason?

    1. In my parish, some hold hands, some do not. My family is one of those that holds hands. If you are not so inclined, no one will look at you funny or force you to do so.

      However, since the rubrics don’t prescribe anything other than stand, by what authority is the bishop making a prescription. Didn’t he just say that no one had that authority a few paragraphs prior?

      1. I am glad that someone else noticed how inconsistent this bishop is being, saying that NO ONE has the authority to change any part of the missal, and then reserving to himself the liberty to do so. Many of the comments note that he is inventing a prescribed posture for the assembly during the Lord’s Prayer where none exists in the rubrics. I think it is even more egregious that he feels free to rewrite an existing rubric, stipulating that his priests may only use certain invocations for Penitential Act, Form C, when the rubric explicitly states that “the following or other invocations” may be used, and those in the Appendix are clearly labeled as “samples.”

    2. Many people whom I know, especially families who liked to hold hands, would be very glad to get rid of the “orans.” I am sure that if other people stopped using the “orans” they would revert to holding hands no matter what the bishop or pastor said.

      1. Also, there are many people who I glad for the “orans” because they do not have to hold hands

        I think most people are influenced more by what people around them are doing rather than what the bishop and pastor say. When they stopped hand holding in a local parish in favor of the “orans”, people blamed the pastoral staff.

        Very few PIPs know what the rules are, or what the bishops says. When I pointed out to a parish council member that the parish did not followed the Bishop’s norms for pastoral council which have the force of law, she simply said we are our own parish and she did not care about the bishop or canon law.

    3. How about “because I’m a bishop and I’ve been charged as shepherd of this flock; I’ll have to answer to God for how I shepherded this flock, and I’d appreciate it if the flock would trust my call instead of monday morning quarterbacking my decisions”? Modern folks mistake their bishop as akin to their legislator or governor, as a man responsible to them and through whom they are represented to the Pope. It always puzzles me that the folks who are quickest to profess their alignment with Vatican II seem to have the least familiarity with its texts! Lumen Gentium 27 answers this question.

      1. Simon,

        I don’t think anyone is questioning the bishop’s authority to make such rules, but rather his wisdom. Ordination to the episcopate might confer the former ex opere operato, but not the latter.

        Maybe he is wise in this decision — maybe he knows his people well and this is exactly what they need.

        Maybe.

      2. The People of God are obliged to use their God-given talents to respond to the pronouncements of the institution.

        The sexual abuse crisis could teach you a lesson about leaving all of the decisions to the overseers.

        Having to answer to God in the matter of people’s holding hands or not? Has your God a definite view on this?

    4. You were driven from the church easily, weren’t you? Is your faith in motions, rubrics etc?

      Rules, glorious rules!
      What wouldn’t we give for
      That extra bit more —
      That’s all that we live for
      Why should we be fated to
      Do nothing but brood
      On rules,
      Magical rules,
      Wonderful rules,
      Marvelous rules,
      Fabulous rules.

  8. What kind of shenanigans and tomfoolery are these professional clerics up to?

    How can the instruction for the faithful not to hold hands at the Our Father be based upon absolute adherence to the letter of the GIRM, but the use of the choir loft “That choirs and other musicians use choir lofts in churches that are structured as such, while not mandated, is strongly recommended.” The laity are neither mandated nor not mandated in their posture at the Our Father. Neither is the use of the choir loft. Well what is it bishop, what is your standard of liturgical correctness? More importantly, why does it matter?!

    You are just like Phoenix and Madison. An agenda waiting for an excuse!

    What does the introduction of a new English translation have to do with these issues? Why make, what you admit to be a tense moment, even more so… even absurd. If, as you state in the opening of your letter, many experience the liturgical life of the church and its changes as inconsequential…maybe you are contributing to such a sad disposition.

    In all this liturgical translation BS I find no credible foundation, no basis for offering “an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15) If our liturgy is not about this, it is surely pointless.

    1. “In all this liturgical translation … I find … no basis for offering ‘an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope’ (1 Peter 3:15) If our liturgy is not about this, it is surely pointless.”

      I would dismiss this as meaningless dreck if I was more confident that there is a coherent point in it. If you mean that the liturgy is pointless if it isn’t about you being able to explain to anyone who asks the reason for your hope, you have profoundly misunderstood the purpose of the Mass.

      1. Behave, Simon. Quoting someone and labelling it dreck is a low insult and conveys only that you wish to be rude.

        If you have a point to make, please do so respectfully. If your point is that you do not understand J. Thomas’s point, say so. If you have something constructive to say, please say it.

  9. Thought someone from on “high” had cautioned bishops from using the new transliteration implementation as an excuse to make changes that were idiosyncratic or ideological or just their own piety gone wild?

  10. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.

    The bishop’s new principle seems to be: whatever is not explicitly prescribed is forbidden. And I chose “new” with care — as Fritz says, this seems far from tradition.

    The GIRM doesn’t say anything about folding one’s hands in prayer when saying the Our Father; does that mean we should stand, hands at sides?

    The GIRM doesn’t mention maniples in the section on vestments; does this mean that the bishop and his liturgical mutaween will track down and eliminate any priest who is foolish enough to use a maniple at the Ordinary Form Mass?

    Jaroslav Pelikan captured this bishop’s attitude when he said: Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.

    1. The left hand should be raised above the head, with a 20 degree bend at the elbow. The right hand swings back and forth through an arc of 90 degrees. It is up to the bishop to specify the frequency of swinging. When the congregation reaches “bread”, they clap three times and swap hands.

  11. “The music used in the Sacred Liturgy be theologically sound and properly composed in accord with the teaching of the Church on Sacred Music”—and deathly dreary, to judge by the examples given. Music in Catholic parishes is going to remain in the ICU until we dispense with the ridiculous distortion of “communal singing is good” into “no music can be used that the congregation can’t sing.” The corrected translation resolves one half of the postconciliar liturgical problem, but now, after a reasonable pause, we must turn to the other: the ars celebrandi. His excellency has made a good start here, but it’s only a start; as I’ve mentioned, we need to do a better job on music (specifically, we need to implement what the council said about music).

  12. “In the United States the lay faithful are instructed to kneel from the end of the Sanctus through the end of the Great Amen (see GIRM 43). Deacons kneel from the epiclesis through the showing of the chalice. Priests remain standing. In addition, “the faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the diocesan Bishop determines otherwise” (GIRM 43).”

    Notice the nice progression up the hierarchy: lay faithful, deacons, priests, bishop. Thanks to this letter, now everyone will know their proper place.

  13. I think the Bishop is right by asking for a more uniform practice so when people come from other parishes or are travelling when they come to Church the practices are generally the same from place to place and no one feels they are in a completely different setting from what they are used to. I understand where he is coming from. You are supposed to feel at home in any Church. As for the hand holding it does make many uncomfortable and as one post noted some go out of their way to make you feel as if you have done something wrong if wishing to not partake in it. And that is the problem with it. It unifies a few and divides others. For some the peace offering is more than enough (and even that is an option, not mandated) and the hand holding is just over the top. I know of one person who no longer attends Mass at Midnight Christmas Mass, the one time he went, because of it. Before it was introduced by a few no one missed it as it did not exist. There are plenty of options already in the Missal, but how “individual” should a parish be allowed to go before they no longer resemble in practice the Church in the next town?

      1. Eric raises an excellent question. I think the answer is both “yes” and “now” – and then the conversation about balancing the two can continue! The old line is a good one – Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
        awr

    1. On the other hand – when I travel, I enjoy seeing how the local parish has tweaked its liturgy! So far, language has not been a barrier – I know my Mass prayers well enough to follow along even when I don’t know the local language.

      (at least, I used to know my Mass prayers well enough!)

    2. Mitch,

      I disagree with your reasoning here. I’ve attended Mass literally around the world, and it’s never been an issue to determine, in a couple seconds or less, what is the local practice, and then do it. Stand, sit, kneel, hold hands during the Our Father [or not, and typically as one prefers; never have I encountered an issue one way or the other]. This is not really rocket science. . .

      1. I’ve been singing that song for a good while now, Jimmy. Thanks! We need to get it into a mass chorus. 😎

  14. Yet another episcocrat. When are the people of Covington going to rise up and Occupy The Chancery?! This sorry old man ought to be strung up by his maniples.

  15. Finally!

    A display of the sort of upright, forthright, downright, four-square leadership that accounts for the influence that the bishops have on the life and thought of today’s American Catholics.

  16. The issue of whether to hold hands or not during the Pater Noster has, it seems, become a divisive issue in the liturgy. In my archdiocese, there was this period when there were quite a bit of debate regarding whether holding hands is appropriate or not. It reached a point where the Bishop had to make a decision. Through the Liturgy Commission, he asked Priests to discourage this practice, and eventually this practice stopped. Of course, having the SARS outbreak a while back helped.

    Interestingly, the Archdiocese seems to have introduced kneeling throughout the Eucharistic Prayer with the new translation. We had, hitherto, knelt from the Sanctus to the Memorial Acclamation.

    1. Interesting, standing for the Preface and Holy is clearly laid out in the GIRM. Wonder why he would change this – though I think a common posture throughout the entire prayer makes more sense than breaking posture after the Holy.

  17. The big problem with holding hands is that those of us who do not find handholding to be a prayerful gesture face serious social pressure to conform to the wishes of those who do. As Archbishop Weakland pointed out many years ago, it’s a foreign gesture imported from evangelical Protestantism, which does not have the ultimate sign of unity, holy communion.

    1. In nearly every parish I’ve been since the mid-80’s such pressure is only in the person’s mind. These days, people hold hands or not, as they wish. Respect for non-holders is more common than the practice itself.

      1. “Respect for non-holders” has not been my experience, Todd. In my last two parishes, people grabbed my hand and glared at me when I told them I didn’t hold hands when I prayed.

  18. Yes, holding hands is an importation that really expresses the longing of the faithful for a more human and meaningful liturgy, which they are not getting.

  19. Sounds like it might be time for someone to develop the principle of “adiaphora” which Lutherans use for things that aren’t worth fighting over. Neither commanded nor forbidden.It allows for a bit of spirit, along with the letter of the law.

  20. It seems that this was written by one of this Bishop’s “chosen” newly ordained. He seems to be running the offices there in Covington, from what I hear, he is not well liked. A newly ordained should not have this much control. He and the Bishop make a deadly combination that will hurt the church in Covington for many years to come.

    1. and you can bet fresh from Rome with his brand new black biretta,
      lace cotta, fiddle back, and marching orders in
      Ratzinger’s Fighting Legion, right?

  21. “Roger Joseph by the grace of God and the favour of the Apostolic See” What a throwback! And what a revelation!

    He got one of those right at least. And by all accounts another candidate who doesn’t want to be buried where he’s currently planted.

    Any website where the home page contains a picture of the ordinary dressed in purple complete with biretta would send warning bells ringing in a psychoanalyst’s head for starters.

  22. This practice spread from parish to parish and diocese to diocese many decades ago as it occurred to people that Catholic worship is about becoming “one body, one spirit in Christ”. How fitting that as the communion rite begins we give visible expression to our being members of one family of faith. It underscores why each doesn’t pray “my Father”, but all pray “our Father”. People who choose not to do this simply do not extend their hands without fear of judgment.

    The only people I know of who have strong feelings against this are the folks who want to see the Mass look as uniform and staid and brief as it used to. People whose understanding of worshipping God seems to be uncomfortable with human expressions of love and affection. Just my take.

    1. The only people I know of who have strong feelings against this are the folks who want to see the Mass look as uniform and staid and brief as it used to.

      I know plenty of people who are strongly opposed to the practice and are also involved in the celebration of liturgies that are in no way brief! Polyphonic (or orchestral) ordinaries, long sermons, chanted readings (in the OF), Gregorian graduals and tracts (both EF and OF), EF solemn Masses and pontifical liturgies at the throne… none of this stuff is “brief” and while it’s “staid” in some senses (well-regulated, dignified), it’s not boring, or sedate, or lacking in the proper kind of zing.

  23. “Sacred Silence be observed in our churches prior to the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy to
    allow the clergy and the faithful to properly prepare and dispose themselves for the Sacred
    Mysteries to which they are about to participate. ”

    Good luck with that!

    1. “Silence following the Mass is also encouraged for those who might want to
      remain in the church to pray.”

      Next – Courtesy Norms for the Sidewalks and Parking Lot!

  24. What I think is interesting yet sad is the fact that the Bishop of Covington felt like he HAD to issue the decree to get the priests to do what they are already supposed to do!

      1. Pastoral sensitivity will give a thousand reasons for adjusting the rubrics and texts on different occasions. It is enought that the standard format is in the books, as an ultimate reference

        Fascistic use of the liturgy as a straitjacket are very inappropriate to Christian worship.

        The problem now is that the books themselves are in a corrupted state. It is the kind of scenario Slavoj Zizek revels in, where the infallible legislator upholding the Symbolic Order is revealed as an obscene and irrational figure.

        What is needed is a liturgy grounded in an authentic biblical and ecclesial culture, and this demands gifts of creativity, taste, intelligence that are in short supply in the Roman Catholic community just now.

  25. As I have remarked before, I do not think that a bishop has the authority to impose a single Mass setting on parishes. I am certain that the Graduale Romanum, for example, may be used at any Mass in place of the responsorial psalm. Also, I strongly doubt that the bishop can prevent the ordinary of the Mass from being sung in Latin according to traditional and approved chants. Letters like these that make me wonder if bishops have really done their research with regards to mandating any aspect of liturgy. I suspect that some are overstepping their bounds.

    As for the orans — I refrain from ever using this posture simply because for more than a millennium this posture has been associated with priest and bishop celebrants only. Yes, Christians prayed in the orans position well after the Constantinian peace (not in the medieval and Tridentine stylized manner, but with arms extended in the form of a cross). Still, I am not sure if the orans position is entirely appropriate for laypersons given that its use has been restricted to priests and bishops for many centuries. The orans might blur the distinction between celebrant and layperson.

  26. Jordan, if a bishop lacks the authority to impose a single Mass setting on parishes, presumably he also lacks the authority to exclude the Extraordinary Form, in your view. Right?

    On the point, let’s suppose that bishops lack canonical authority to impose a single setting. Does it follow that he lacks pastoral authority to ask that parishes use one setting? A few years ago, during one of the periodic spasms of “OMG, there’s a killer virus on the loose” that grip the country’s imagination, I seem to remember not a few bishops making two very reasonable requests. They asked that the chalice be suspended, and that communicants receive in the hand. And, you know, it doesn’t take a genius to anticipate the response, does it? Instead of standing on their rights, everyone was obedient to a perfectly reasonable request of their shepherds, a request that the bishops lacked canonical authority to impose but had undoubted pastoral authority to request. Right? Not a bit of it. How dare thee, screamed the traditionalists about the precious body; we have a right to receive on the tongue, which is of course true but beside the point. And how dare thee, screamed the traditionalists about the precious blood; we have a right to receive in the hand, which is of course both incorrect and beside the point.

    Now, here’s the point. Were the bishops’ concerns justified? I have no idea. But I’m not going to have to answer to God for the flock of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; my bishop will. I owe a reasonable deference to his judgment in discharging that obligation, even when I disagree, and even when he is asking something that he recognizes that he doesn’t have authority to demand. Everyone whines and moans that the bishops don’t lead, but it’s pretty difficult to lead when no one will follow you.

    American secular life tends to make us obsessed with rights and to see the Church as analogous to a secular power; neither tendency…

    1. ” . . . it’s pretty difficult to lead when no one will follow you.”

      Especially when the shepherd doesn’t realize he leads by following the sheep, not in front of them. The sheep know best where the good food (and salt…) is to be found, and the good shepherd trusts them on that score and protects them from behind and keeps track of the ones that fall behind.

      1. That’s a very strange notion. Generals might be said to “lead” from behind—miles and miles behind—because the ability to give verbal orders to minions who understand them uncouples the verb “to direct” from the verb “to lead,” by which the former is usually understood. Shepherds don’t have that option; to direct, they must literally lead. What you have described is, literally, a shepherd who follows: “The sheep know best where the good food (and salt…) is to be found.” That’s not the image of the shepherd in scripture—He doesn’t trust us on the finding still waters score, he leads us beside them (Ps 23:1-3); He leads his sheep out, whereafter “He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow Him” (Jn 10:3-4 (NABRE)).

        We might profitably hear from St Peter Chrysologus’ Sermon #40: “For the sake of His shep, the Shepherd met the death which was threatening them … [and] by giving a pattern like this, the Shepherd went before His sheep; He did not run away from them … [but rather] enabled His sheep to pick out their robbers in such a way that the sheep, although slain, should live; although magled, should rise again and, colored by their own blood, should gleam in royal purple and shine with snow-white fleece. In this way, when the good shepherd laid down His life for His sheep, He did not lose it. In this way, He held His sheep; He did not abandon them. Indeed, he did not forsake them, but invited them. He called and led them through fields full of death, and a road of death, to ilfe-giving pastures. … The sheep who have followed Him to death must also follow Him to life.” (My italics.)

        If you research this further, I think you’ll find that you have it backwards.

      2. A priest from Kerala told me of his bishop’s exhortation to his priests: “Gentlemen, the train is leaving the station, and some of you won’t be on it!” One priests murmured, “It’s more like the engine leaving the station, unaware that the carriages are not attached.”

        The new liturgy is a wonderful baroque engine puffing off on its dream journey. Does it carry the people of God with it?

  27. Paul Stokell :

    Was packed with babushka ladies lighting tapirs
    Since Benedict XVI is leading us to be a more environmentally friendly Church, setting endangered mammals on fire would probably not be recommended.

    An underrated post!

  28. Simon Dodd on November 29, 2011 – 1:53 pm

    The traditional laity do not have an absolute right to the EF. cf. Summorum Pontificum art. 5 and Universae Ecclesiae art. 13 and 14. Pope Benedict has exhorted bishops to provide pastoral care for traditional faithful. Nevertheless, bishops are still able to deny the EF for any reason. Bishops certainly have the right to forbid the EF in times of pandemic, even if other options exist (such as Mass without a peoples’ communion). This decision must be respected, especially if the bishop is merely complying with health regulations.

    A “diocesan standard” Mass setting is ironically divisive. A parish which sings significant portions of its OF Mass in Latin should be asked to sing a contemporary Mass setting or the entire Mass in English simply because it might bring about a “sense of diocesan unity”? I suppose that obedience would require a parish which sings often in Latin to sing the corresponding English plainsong adaptations from the Roman Missal. Still, what’s the use? Positivist liturgical legislation is precisely what got us into the current traditional/progressive stalemate.

    1. Jordan, while it’s true that no one has “an absolute right” to the EF, insofar as no one has an absolute right to the Mass, period, I think you’re mistaken in the distinction that you seem to be inferring between “the traditional faithful” and, well, I don’t know what’s on the otherwise of that balance. Neither SP nor UE, which speak only of a coetus fidelium, will bear that weight.

      More importantly, you’re wrong that “bishops are still able to deny the EF for any reason.” They aren’t. If you know a willing priest, your bishop could be Annibale Bugnini himself and he still couldn’t deny you access to the EF: Any latin-rite priest “whether secular or religious, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962 … and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum,” without “need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.” Such Masses may “be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.” That’s the great gift of SP: It is now the universal law of the Church that every priest may now celebrate Mass in the usus anquiquior and every Catholic wishing to do so may, ceteris paribus, attend. To be sure that’s technically about “private” Masses, and things get slightly murkier when we get into the issue of “public” Masses in the extraordinary form, but I’ll leave it there for now to see what if anything you’d prefer to respond to. 🙂

      Now, if my bishop makes a request like “I ask my flock to not attend the extraordinary form for the duration of advent and Christmas, as a symbol of unity,” I think that such a request should receive considerable deference, as I’ve said, and I’d adhere to it. But it must be clearly stated that the “decision” in question is a decision to ask, not a decision in any binding sense, and I can’t conceive of a scenario in which it would be appropriate to shut down access to the EF “merely [to] comply[] with health…

  29. The Vatican has got us all obsessing about the Latin originals of the drab prayers we’ve been using and the monstrous ones that are replacing them. The move back to the church as it was before Vatican II is as palpable as the deadly undertow of a receding tide. What ever happened to inculturation and to creative liturgy? We are all bowing low to the idol of Fear.

  30. The bishop is actually right on this. My authority: Archbishop Rembert Weakland who wrote years ago that this practice of holding hands during the Pater was asisine. So Weakland’s fellow progressives need to get with the progarm. By the way, I don’t hold mens’ hands.

  31. Regarding the people crossing themselves before the Gospel is read, I’m sure it’s an unintentional mistake in the GIRM, but it’s covered if the priest reads the Gospel (134) but not if a Deacon reads the Gospel (175). They left out “which everyone else does as well”

    134. At the ambo, the Priest opens the book and, with hands joined, says, The Lord be with you, to which the people reply, And with your spirit. Then he says, A reading from the holy Gospel, making the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on the book and on his forehead, mouth, and breast, which everyone else does as well.

    175…At the ambo the Deacon greets the people, with hands joined, saying, The Lord be with you. After this, at the words A reading from the holy Gospel, he signs with his thumb the book and then himself on his forehead, mouth, and breast. He incenses the book and proclaims the Gospel reading.

    I’m sure no one is going to look to see who’s reading the Gospel before crossing themselves.

    1. Here’s a possible explanation for the oversight.

      GIRM 134 falls within the section “Mass without a Deacon” (120-170). It goes through the Mass in a good amount of detail.

      GIRM 175 occurs in the section “Mass with a Deacon” (171-186). It is less detailed, and seems to highlight only those parts of the Mass that are changed by the presence and ministry of the deacon.

      So the reason GIRM 175 doesn’t mention the signs of the cross made by the congregation is because that isn’t changed by the fact that a deacon is reading the Gospel.

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